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TEs Must Say the Explanation of an Illusion is Itself an Illusion as the Price of Admission to the “Cool Kids” Club

Editors:  This was originally posted under a different title in May 2012.  We were inspired to repost it by Dr. Sewell’s post here

Bishop Ussher famously calculated that the universe was created on October 23, 4004 BC.  I do not hold this or any other young earth creationist (YEC) position.  The evidence that the universe is several billion years old seems fairly compelling to me.  In particular, certain celestial objects (stars, galaxies, supernovas, etc.) are billions of light years away.  From this fact I deduce that the light we see from these objects has been traveling billions of years to get to us, which leads to the conclusion that the objects emitted the light billions of years ago, which in turn means the objects are billions of years old.  This chain of inferences obviously leaves no room for an age of the universe measured in only thousands of years.

YEC proponents have the same evidence as the rest of us, and they admit the universe appears to be billions of years old.  Nevertheless, they persist in their YEC beliefs.  How can they do this?  There is an enormous body of literature on the subject that cannot be summarized adequately in the confines of a blog post, but the short answer is YECs have erected a series of plausible (to them) explanations for the apparent age of the universe.  For example, some YECs hold that just as God created Adam with apparent age (i.e, he started out as an adult; he was never an infant, a toddler, or a teenager), God also created the universe with apparent age.  This means that the light we see from those distant objects was not emitted billions of years ago.  Instead, God created that light “in route.”  Other YECs assert that the speed of light need not have been constant, and if light traveled in the past many times faster than it does now, our deductions about the age of the universe based on an assumption that the speed of light has always been the same would be wrong.

I do not reject YEC reasoning such as this as a logical impossibility.  By this I mean that while God cannot do logically impossible things (e.g., he cannot make a “square circle” or cause 2+2 to equal 73), he can perform miracles.  He can turn water into wine; he can make five loaves of bread and two fish feed thousands of people.  Indeed, the very act of creating the universe — no matter when he did it — was a miracle.  Therefore, I conclude that God, being God, could have created the universe on October 23, 4004 BC and made it look billions of years old just as the YECs say, even if that is not what I personally believe.  

The YEC position cannot, therefore, be refuted as a logical impossibility.  Nor can it be refuted by appealing to the evidence.  “Wait just a cotton picking minute Barry!” you might say.  “In the first paragraph you told us you believe the ‘evidence’ leads to the conclusion that the universe is billions of years old.”  And so I did.  Here is where we must distinguish between the evidence, which is the same for everyone, and an interpretive framework for that evidence, which can vary.  By “interpretive framework” I mean the set of unprovable assumptions each of us brings to bear when we analyze the evidence.  For example, the vast majority of scientists assume that the speed of light has been constant since the beginning of the universe.  As we have seen, some YEC scientists believe that light has slowed down significantly since the creation event.  Obviously, conclusions about the age of the universe from the “light evidence” will vary enormously depending upon which group is correct.  

Very interestingly, despite the fact that most people believe that it is a scientifically proven “fact” that the speed of light has always been the same as it is now, it most certainly is not.  The current speed of light is an observable scientific fact.  We cannot, however, know with certainty what the speed of light was before observations of the speed of light were made.  This assertion is not in the least controversial.  Mainstream scientists admit that their assumptions about the fixed nature of the speed of light in the remote past are just that, assumptions.  In philosophical terms, mainstream scientists subscribe to “uniformitarianism,” the assumption that physical processes operated in the past in the same way they are observed to operate now.  YEC scientists by and large reject uniformitarianism.  Which group is correct is beside my point.  The point is that uniformitarianism is an assumption of most scientists.  It has not been, and indeed as a matter of strict logic cannot be, demonstrated by science.  In other words, the uniformitarian assumption is part of the interpretive framework mainstream scientists bring to bear on the evidence.  The uniformitarian assumption is not part of the evidence itself.

This brings me to the point of this post.  I don’t usually argue with YEC’s, because no matter how long and hard you argue with them, you will never convince them based on appeals to logic and evidence.  There is, almost literally, nothing you can say that might change their mind, so arguing with them is usually pointless.  Yes, the YEC proponent has the same evidence that you do, but he interprets that evidence within a different interpretive framework.  You might think his interpretive framework is flawed, but you cannot say, as a matter of strict logic, that his interpretive framework must be necessarily flawed.  In other words, you must admit that as a matter of strict logic it is possible, for instance, for light to be slower now than it was in the past.  And given the premise of some YECs that light is in fact slower now than it was in the past, their conclusions might then follow.  

Why do YECs reject uniformitarianism?  Because they are devoted to a particular interpretation of the Biblical creation account.  They believe the Bible says the universe was created in six days a few thousand years ago, and if they are going to believe the Bible is true they must therefore believe the universe was created in six days a few thousand years ago.  It does no good to appeal to logic or evidence.  As I have demonstrated above, a young universe is not a logical impossibility and no matter what evidence you adduce that, to you, indicates the universe is very old, the YEC will have an answer (e.g., “light has slowed down”). 

I was thinking about this yesterday when we were discussing the theistic evolutionists (TEs) over at BioLogos.  TEs are like YECs in this respect — they cling to a scientific view that runs counter to the obvious evidence because of their prior commitments.  

Let me explain what I mean.  Just as it is “obvious” that the universe appears to be several billion years old, it is “obvious” that living things appear to have been designed for a purpose.  That statement is not based on my religious beliefs; even the atheists believe that living things appear to have been designed for a purpose.  Arch-atheist Richard Dawkins famously said that “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”  Surely our friends at BioLogos will go as far as atheist Dawkins and admit that living things “appear” to have been designed for a purpose.  

Now notice the similarity between TEs and YECs:  Everyone concedes that the universe appears to be billions of years old; everyone concedes that living things appear to have been designed for a purpose.  YECs say the first appearance is an illusion.  TEs  say the second appearance is an illusion.  

We have already seen how YECs come to the conclusion that the apparent age of the universe is an illusion.  How do TEs come to the conclusion that the appearance of design in living things is an illusion?  The same way Richard Dawkins does, by appealing to the marvelous creative powers of Darwinian processes that, he says, are able to mimic design through strictly natural means.  Darwinists say, as they must, that the appearance of design that they admit exists is not real but an illusion.  Indeed, the whole purpose of the Darwinian theory of origins is to account for the appearance of design without having to resort to a designer. 

YECs reject the “obvious” conclusion about the age of the universe because of their prior commitments.  Why do TEs reject the “obvious” conclusion about the design of living things?  Further, why do TEs reject that obvious conclusion in the very teeth of the Biblical injunction to regard the appearance of design as proof of God’s existence (Romans 1).  

The answer has to do with what I call the “cool kids” impulse that all humans have to one extent or another.  When I was in school all of the “cool kids” sat at a particular table at lunch, and everyone wanted to be in that group.  I was not a cool kid, and I figured out pretty early that, for better or ill, the streak of stubborn individualism that runs to my very core would probably prevent me from ever being a cool kid.  I refused to conform and in order to be a cool kid you have to conform to the other cool kids.  Don’t get me wrong.  I very much wanted to be a cool kid.  Everyone wants to be a cool kid, and believe me, my life would have been so much easier if I had been a cool kid.  This is sociology 101.  But I was unwilling (perhaps even unable) to pay the price of admission to the cool kids club – i.e., conformity.

The cool kids impulse does not go away when we are adults, and in the academic community all of the cool kids sit at the Darwinian table.  TEs want to be cool kids; they want to be respectable and accepted in the academic community.  Sadly for them, the price the academic cool kids club extracts for admission is denial of the obvious appearance of design in living things and acceptance of the patent absurdity that the accretion of random errors sorted by a fitness function can account for the stupendously complex nano-machines we call cells.  

This is not, however, the end of the story for TEs.  They know that to deny design in the universe is to deny the designer of the universe, which is to deny God, and what is the point of being a TE if you reject the “T” part?  In order to maintain their membership in the cool kids club TEs slam the front door in God’s face when they deny the reality underlying the apparent design of living things that even atheists admit.  But they are perfectly willing to let God in the backdoor just so long as he stays out of sight and doesn’t get them kicked out of the club.  

As I discussed yesterday, I am thinking of TEs like Stephen Barr.  Dr. Barr is perfectly happy to accept the Darwinian account of evolution.  Darwinism says that mechanical necessity (i.e., natural selection) plus random chance (mutation, drift, etc.) are sufficient to account for the apparent design of living things.  It is, in StephenB’s words, a “design-free random process.”  In his “Miracle of Evolution,” Dr. Barr slams the front door shut on God when he accepts the Darwinian account.  Then he cracks the backdoor open ever so slightly to let God slip in when he asserts that what we perceive as a “design-free random process” is really, at a deeper level of existence, directed by God in a way that is empirically undetectable at this level of existence.

Barr is saying that in order to maintain his membership in the cool kids club he must affirm that evolution is purely random and design free.  How is his position different from the atheist position espoused by Richard Dawkins?  At the level of existence in which we examine empirical data, Barr’s position is identical to Dawkins’ position.  But, says Barr, when he uses the word “random,” he really means “apparently random but really directed.”  Apparently, Barr believes that, in Einstein’s famous phrase, God really does play dice with the universe.  But according to Barr, God, has loaded the dice so that they rolled “life,” however improbable that might have been (like a thousand 7′s in a row with real dice), and God’s dice loading is so clever that the “fix” can never be detected empirically. 

In this way Barr maintains membership in the academic cool kids club by espousing a Darwinian account of origins that is indistinguishable from the account of origins that atheists like Dawkins and Dennnett espouse.  Yet he keeps the “T” in his “TE” by saying that at a wholly different level of existence God fixed the game so that “random” is not really random but “directed.”  He wants to have it both ways. 

Here again, the TE position is exactly the same as the YEC position.  As we have already seen, you cannot push a YEC off his position by appealing to logic or evidence.  Nor can you push Dr. Barr off his position by appealing to logic and evidence.  We cannot rule Barr’s position out on strictly logical grounds.  God, being God, can certainly fix the dice in an empirically undetectable way if that is how he wants to accomplish his purposes.  Nor, by definition, can one rule Barr’s position out empirically short of finding the proverbial “made by YHWH” inscription on a cell.  

Finally, there is a certain irony in Barr’s position.  The atheist says living things appear to be designed but the appearance of design is an illusion explained by random Darwinian processes.  The TE says that living things appear to be designed but the appearance of design is an illusion explained by random Darwinian processes, BUT the randomness of Darwinian process is itself an illusion, because those processes are really directed by God to produce living things.  Thus, according to the TEs, the explanation of one illusion (the randomness of underlying Darwinism), which is an explanation of another illusion (the apparent design of living things) is, you guessed it, design.  Another way of putting it is the TE says design is an illusion explained by random process which are in turn an illusion explained by design.  As the comedian says, “That’s funny.  I don’t care who you are.”

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238 Responses to TEs Must Say the Explanation of an Illusion is Itself an Illusion as the Price of Admission to the “Cool Kids” Club

  1. This is pretty low, Barry. Steve Barr just wants to be “cool”? This is like the old, tired claim that TEs are spineless jellyfish who never engage Dawkins and company–a ridiculous charge that I’ve refuted here several times. Give Barr the right to come to his conclusions on the same basis that you do: he looks at the evidence, thinks about it, and decides what makes the most sense. Do you like to attack Barr just to look “cool” in front of StephenB, Denyse, and other Catholic culture warriors who no longer like “First Things” b/c they give Steve a prominent role?

    If that’s really his motivation for holding the specific views you mention here, then why in the world would he set himself apart from the genuine atheists by writing a book like “Modern Physics and Ancient Faith?” How exactly does a book like that make him look “cool”? Stephen Weldon, the non-theist who reviewed Barr’s book for “Isis,” the leading American journal in my field (History of Science), said this (his review is the one that is usually quoted all over the internet): Barr’s book is “an extended attack on what he calls scientific materialism. … Religion and science are not really in conflict, Barr claims; they only appear to be so because many people have conflated science with philosophical materialism. His overarching historical framework is the view that developments in the physical sciences in the twentieth century have demonstrated principles that have made science more, rather than less, compatible with theistic ideas.” (Isis, Dec 2004, p. 742)

    I must say, Barry, this is not how one becomes “cool” in academic circles. Have you ever read Barr’s book? Your objections apparently are to his article on the miracle of evolution, and not to his book. If so, why not stick with that and leave his alleged motives out of this? Or, if you want to speculate about his motives, why not just follow the evidence wherever it leads and give him credit for having the courage of his convictions, despite this difference of opinion?

  2. As when mankind first peered into and beheld the living cell in detail, darwinism should have ended and a sea-change swept over science, so too when the heavens were revealed in all spectrums. This is relevant to all cosmology and it’s implications. Much is incorrect and of course much is unknown.

    Many YEC’s came to that position *because* of the ‘evidence’ in much the same way that ID’ers came to that position. I’m saying your somewhat (not too malicious) charicature of YEC’s is inaccurate.

  3. 3
    Barry Arrington

    Ted Davis,

    Evolution is the greatest engine of atheism ever invented. ~ William Provine

    Can there be any doubt that Provine is correct, that the rise of atheism and the advent of Darwinian evolution are not merely correlated but causally related? In case you are wondering, that is a rhetorical question.

    Stephen Barr (paraphrase of course): “I’m OK with Darwinian evolution.”

    The communists had a term for people like Barr: “useful idiot.”

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Useful_idiot

    The fact that Barr has written apologetic works in other fields makes the damage he does worse, not better.

    And yes, I really do believe that people like Barr crave academic respectability above all things.

    And yes, I really do believe that the influence of Barr and people like him at First Things has transformed that once great journal into a collection of boring, not-worth-reading drivel. That is why, after being a subscriber almost from the beginning more than 20 years ago, I am letting my subscription lapse.

  4. And evolutionists of all persuasions have a greater a-priori commitment to an age of the universe. Any contradictory or inconsistent evidence will be explained away. Of which there is an enormous amount.

    The parallels to evolution are striking. ‘These galaxies are not moving the way our theory says they should’ – there must be some un-predicted (soon to be a knew it all along ) matter that keeps our (religion) theory intact (dark matter).

    How can there be methane left on this moon when we know it’s 4 bya – magic methane source

    I meticulously logged contradictory red shift data, literally disproving red shift=distance – NO MORE TELESCOPE TIME FOR YOU

    etc etc etc etc

  5. Well, Barry, in my columns for BioLogos (a new venture for me), I’ve banned the term “IDiot,” b/c it’s simply nasty name calling that reflects poorly on those who use it: they’re usually just grasping at straws, and it doesn’t help their credibility one bit. As you probably know, my action was greeted with applause here at UD. (http://www.uncommondescent.com.....gainst-id/)

    Let me suggest that you ban the term, “useful idiot,” in your columns here. Same reasons as above.

  6. The TE says that living things appear to be designed but the appearance of design is an illusion explained by random Darwinian processes, BUT the randomness of Darwinian process is itself an illusion, because those processes are really directed by God to produce living things. Thus, according to the TEs, the explanation of the illusion of the explanation of the illusion of design is, you guessed it, design.

    So, isn’t that tantamount to the TE saying design is NOT an illusion?

    Cheers

  7. 7

    There is a difference between the YEC and TE positions as described in the OP: The YEC position is a metaphysical stance that allows all the actual evidence to be explained in a way that is not logically contradictory. The TE position, however, ignores the abundant and overwhelming evidence against the Darwinian explanation. I am referring of course to the astronomically improbable amounts of CFSI in living things, the irreducible complexity of myriad biological structures and processes, J. Sanford’s concept of genetic entropy, etc.

  8. 8
    Barry Arrington

    @ Ted and [5]
    “IDiot” is nothing but a malicious slur. “Useful idiot” is a historical term that is exactly descriptive of the concept I am aiming to express. So I will decline your invitation.

  9. 9
    Barry Arrington

    butifnot, I am surprised that you characterize my discussion of YECs as somewhat malicious and a caricature. It was not meant to be.

  10. 10
    Barry Arrington

    Bruce, you put your finger exactly on the problem, nay tragedy, of the TE position.

  11. 11

    Well, I’m proud to be a YEC and while I respect Mr Arrington’s ability to believe as he chooses, I don’t appreciate the condescending and, dare I say insulting nature of his post. I believe God IS truth, so if it were ever shown the universe is billions of years, I would have no problem accepting that. I would also have no problem accepting evolution because my faith in GOD is not dependent on whether it’s true or not. In fact, the age of the universe does not hold much importance for me overall. If it’s 20 billion years of age – fine, if it’s approx 6000 – fine. At this time, I see no conclusive evidence to change my beliefs about it and could argue there’s evidence for it being young.

    There’s so much more to be discovered about the universe that I’m actually quite surprised Mr Arrington would assume a young universe is illogical while an older one, is. It reminds me of how darwinists like to jump the gun and proclaim something as true (junk dna) only to learn later that that alleged ‘junk’ serves an important purpose.

  12. Really the point is everyone operates from a framework- period. Everyone interprets evidence from their framework. The question is who’s is the most consistent. Barry your very incomplete and outdated about YEC evidence and ‘interpretations’ – multitudes of evidence consistent with short timespans, contradictory to long ages, and serious fundamental flaws in a cosmology full of ‘epicycles’. And in seriousness it was a little condescending.

  13. 13
    material.infantacy

    I’m a six day creationist, and am agnostic about earth/universe age for pragmatic reasons, but very sympathetic to a young earth. I read Genesis 1-11 about as literally as anyone I’ve encountered. I took no particular offense at the OP.

  14. Mr. Arrington makes a good point here when he states, “Here is where we must distinguish between the evidence, which is the same for everyone, and an interpretive framework for that evidence, which can vary. By “interpretive framework” I mean the set of unprovable assumptions each of us brings to bear when we analyze the evidence.”

    Whenever I’ve examined debates about ID or evolution, I’ve noticed that it’s not the evidence that’s being questioned, but rather the interpretation of the evidence. Interpretations aren’t always based on logic, facts, or evidence.

  15. Barry, you have written an eminently “cool” post. It was a joy to read from start to finish. The extent to which the TE’s will go to link a purposeful, mindful God with a purposeless, mindless process is truly remarkable.

  16. 16
    Barry Arrington

    Thx Stephen

  17. –Ted: “If that’s really his motivation for holding the specific views you mention here, then why in the world would he set himself apart from the genuine atheists by writing a book like “Modern Physics and Ancient Faith?”

    There once was a little boy who studied hard at the Darwinist Academy. On his graduation, he said to his teachers, “I must confess, I no longer believe in materialist monism, but I still think Darwin got it right.” His teachers, somewhat disappointed, patted him on the head and lowered his grade from A to A-

    There was a second little boy who studied hard at the Darwinist Academy. On his graduation, he said to his teachers, “I am now persuaded that the universe if finely tuned and I have come to accept the first cause argument. Still, I think Darwin got it right. His teachers, partly amused and partly irked, lowered his grade from A to B+

    There was a third little boy who studied hard at the Darwinist Academy. On his graduation, he said to his teachers, “I have remained faithful to everything you have taught me except for one thing: I think Darwin may have been wrong. His teachers burned all his records, expelled him from school, and had him brought up on charges of treason.

  18. @ Barry and [8]

    Very persuasive. Maybe I’ll rethink my policy. Following your example, maybe I should allow the term, “useful IDiots,” as an intelligently designed variant of the historically significant term, “useful idiots.”

    Good night, Barry. Make sure you always type that final letter to your name. Don’t want to be taken for a useful idiot.

  19. 19

    this yEC says its fair to press the light issue about time and fair for us to see it created instantly as God doesn’t need time. he’s not controlled by his own mechanisms surely.
    i have no interest in cosmology stuff and since we already see the sun/moon created in a day we see no problem with anything else in the universe.
    If you were God what would you do if on a time schedule.?

    then also this light thing could be more complicated then realized even in present mechanisms. Some details might not be figured out.
    The thread was gracious to YEC folks as I witness.

  20. 20

    It´s a scientific fact that the speed of light is decreasing ever since it´s known how to measure it, and the magnetic field is decreasing (and even if it´s possible that a reversal compensate the measures, it exists entropy) . And many more scientific facts are matching with a young earth. Everything is a fact even for doubters in Genesis, 1 like me.

  21. Thus, according to the TEs, the explanation of the illusion of the explanation of the illusion of design is, you guessed it, design.

    Of course, if it’s an illusion that design is an illusion, then design isn’t an illusion after all, so the above statement simply reduces to “design is not an illusion.” Btw, I don’t think that all TEs think that randomness is an illusion. Most, unfortunately, don’t. Barr, to his credit, really means it when he says that it’s directed by God.

    To be fair to Barr, I *don’t* think he shuts the door in God’s face as you said. In fact, he takes the opposite track from most TEs. He actually shuts the door in Darwin’s face without realizing it.

    Most TEs employ theological, teleological language while draining it of its meaning and replacing it with anti-teleological concepts. Barr, on the other hand, does the opposite: he empties non-teleological words like “random” of their meaning and replaces them with teleological concepts. The crucial difference is, other TEs don’t really mean it when they say that God used evolution to create man, whereas Barr does.

    By redefining random to mean “only subjectively random but objectively directed”, he pulls the carpet out from under the entire logic of the Darwinian argument that is supposed to explain the appearance of design without a designer. He’s using the word “Darwinism” but he means something else by it than actual Darwinists do (whereas other TEs mean something else by “freedom”, “created”, “providence”, etc than Christian theists do).

    I’m not sure why he does it. Quite a lot of TEs are clearly driven by the “cool club”, but I’m not so sure that Barr is one of them. I don’t think he quite understands that, as you said, “the whole purpose of the Darwinian theory of origins is to account for the appearance of design without having to resort to a designer.” He keeps insisting that in science, “random” only refers to our subjective inability to see a correlation, which suggests to me that he doesn’t quite understand the logic of the Darwinian argument, the way it employs the concept of randomness, and why it employs it that way.

    Or, possibly, he may want to remove stumbling blocks to Christianity from people who would balk at rejecting “Darwin’s theory.” Quite a lot of people see “Darwin” as a fuzzy term that is interchangeable with “evolution” and “common descent” and don’t really get what Darwin was trying to achieve and what his argument was regarding design and intentionality. That was definitely me for a good long while. They may balk if they think they have to “reject science” to be Christians, and Barr may just find it easier to present a defanged, defined-down “Darwinism” rather get into the philosophical weeds of explaining just what Darwin’s theory means, what it’s philosophical argument is that must be rejected, etc.

    As for the idea that design is not empirically detectable, I’m not sure that accurately describes what Barr thinks, though again it certainly describes the majority of TEs that define theism down. From what I’ve read of his, Barr appears to be a Thomist, which would mean that he thinks living things have intrinsic, irreducible telos that can’t be reduced to mechanistic causes, and that we can learn this by observing them and grasping their form.

    But the fact that something can be grasped via empirical observation doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s quantifiable for scientific purposes. Consider the case when you learn to speak in a new language. You see and hear new words, and you figure out their meanings through experience. But it’s impossible to examine the meanings of words with science, because meaning is not physical, measurable, or quantifiable. The same goes for the contents of our thoughts, for qualia, etc. We experience these things, and we know they exist, but they aren’t open to scientific examination. It’s possible to hold the same for the telos of living things I think: that it’s something we can learn by observing them, but that it’s not open to quantification by the tools of modern, mechanistic science.

    In summary, I think that Barr is guilty only of abusing the language a bit, and I doubt it’s intentional. I don’t think he has made a mockery of Christian theology like most TEs have.

  22. Barry,

    You make a good point about the disadvantage we humans are all at when it comes to doing historical science.

    I am a YEC and I thought your comparison between YECs and TEs is probably fairly accurate.

    In fact, YECers have been making this point for a long time!

    No one observed what happened in the past. We can see the results, but not the actual event. We can’t do experiments to repeat it, test it, or verify it. We all have the same evidence and interpret it based on our worldview or through our own interpretive framework.

    This is why there are so many just so stories in evolution. We can’t prove them wrong and they can’t prove them right. This is not really science at all, but they want us to believe it is science.

    Knowing the difference between real science and historical science is of utmost importance for all of us because evolutionists so often use the word “science” dishonestly.

    They refer to regular operational science that uses the scientific method and can be observed in real time as being trustworthy(which we all agree with) and then ridicule us creationists for being anti-science because we question evolution. But the catch is, evolution is historical science, not regular or operational science. One is quite trustworthy and the other is supported with lots of assumptions and just so stories.

    But Barry, I guess I would have preferred you use a different YEC argument on distant starlight as very few believe YEC groups propose that type of solution anymore, but this was an idea put forth by some in the past. I’ll agree though that it makes for an easy to understand illustration. The appearance of age idea is also not really held by many reputable creationist organizations, although it probably is more popular on the lay level.

    But yes, we take God’s Word as truth and interpret nature through the lens of God’s Word. We view His Word as an eyewitness account. We can’t see what happened, but we have the eyewitness account of someone who did.

    Plus, a young earth was the overwhelming interpretation of the Jews themselves and of the early church, all the way up until Lyell et al began spreading their ideas of uniformitarianism, which is now known to be false. Lyell’s ideas have had to be modified since his time.

    We believe the literal approach to Scripture is the interpretation that is most faithful to the text. It makes the most sense of Scripture. Jesus himself seems to have believed in a young earth because He says that God created them male and female at the “beginning of creation”.

    Plus, belief in an old earth virtually requires you to reject a worldwide flood in favor of a local flood. But this requires unbelievable mental gymnastics to interpret the flood as a local flood and again is a modern reinterpretation of the text seemingly done simply to fit better with evolutionary science.

    When you start playing so loosely with the text, after a while, you wonder which texts are trustworthy and which are not.

    To an unbiased person, it would seem like Christians are just trying to save their religion from falsification and the obvious conclusions of “science” just like evolutionists keep modifying their views to account for new evidence.

    I think it needs to be pointed out that although there is evidence for an old universe, there is also scientific evidence that points to a young earth/universe as well.

    Anyway, we YECers feel that, just as archeologists go to the Bible for helpful hints, scientists should also go to the Bible for helpful hints as to how to interpret the evidence.

    For instance, how do you interpret the geological column? Was if formed through slow and gradual processes throughout billions of years of history, or was it formed through the global flood like the Bible teaches?

    No one saw it being formed and the processes we see at work in the world now are not necessarily the same processes that formed the rocks in the beginning. This is simply an assumption of uniformitarianism. Knowing that a worldwide flood occurred, would make a huge difference in how we interpret the rock record and fossil record! Also, knowing how languages came into being gives us important knowledge that we can use as we study the origin of languages. And so forth.

    So we YECs believe we should take God at His word when He clearly tells us that He created the world in 6 days and rested on the 7th as a pattern for our week.

    Rejecting that knowledge will necessarily result in wrong conclusions and interpretations of the evidence which is the same for everyone.

    Someone told me that if that view is right, then God is guilty of deceiving us. My answer to that is “You only feel that way because you have chosen to believe the clear testimony of His Word.” If He told us how He did it, then how can that be purposeful deception?

    This worldview problem, interpretive framework problem is a problem that all scientists have. Even IDers have their own interpretive framework through which they view and interpret the evidence.

    For instance, Hugh Ross’s interpretive framework is that nature is the 67th book of the Bible and this allows him to use science to reinterpret the plain meaning of the Bible and still feel like he is remaining true to God’s Word.

    Thank you for making this point on the board, Barry!

  23. Barry,

    I think you gave a reasonably balanced presentation of YEC, however I would suggest two minor points.

    1) “Illusion” of age reveals bias
    2) You did not mention Russell Humphreys Gravitational Time Dilation. (I also suspect there are a few unknown unknowns)

  24. 24

    For example, some YECs hold that just as God created Adam with apparent age (i.e, he started out as an adult; he was never an infant, a toddler, or a teenager), God also created the universe with apparent age. This means that the light we see from those distant objects was not emitted billions of years ago. Instead, God created that light “in route.” Other YECs assert that the speed of light need not have been constant, and if light traveled in the past many times faster than it does now, our deductions about the age of the universe based on an assumption that the speed of light has always been the same would be wrong.

    I would have to agree with butifnot and tjguy. Your description of YEC is horribly out-of-date. I suppose you still think YECs accept the vapor canopy theory of the Flood as well?

    TEs are like YECs in this respect — they cling to a scientific view that runs counter to the obvious evidence because of their prior commitments.

    Are you claiming not to have any prior commitments Barry?

  25. This is as cogent a post as I’ve read in a long time, Barry. Well done!

    My problem with the YEC position is two-fold: 1) The particular (one might say idiosyncratic) exegesis of Genesis to which YECs are committed is by no means demanded to retain orthodoxy, and a number of important church fathers have refused such a hyperlexic reading of the text; and 2) if so many features of nature are indeed illusory, where do we draw the epistemological line?

    I hold no ill will for YECs, but some seem to use the age of the earth as a line-in-the-sand issue and a litmus test for fellowsip. That is unfortunate.

  26. 26
    Barry Arrington

    I am astounded at the intemperate tone of some of the responses from our YEC friends. Did you not read this sentence? “Therefore, I conclude that God, being God, could have created the universe on October 23, 4004 BC and made it look billions of years old just as the YECs say, even if that is not what I personally believe.”

    I tried very hard to be respectful while disagreeing.

    I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. An “if you disagree with me about anything you must be wrong about everything” attitude seems to go hand in glove with the fundamentalist mindset.

    Nevertheless, the uncharitable tone of some of the responses is disappointing.

  27. Deuce @21, I am wondering if Barr doesn’t flit back and forth from subjectivity to objectivity. When justifying his notion that God can “use contingency to create,” for example, he seems to be writing in the objective mode.

    In his essay, “The Design of Evolution,” he writes this:

    “,,,even the outcome of a purely contingent natural process can nonetheless fall within God’s providential plan.”

    Isn’t this basically the same as Collin’s position: Evolution doesn’t know where it is going (non-teleological Darwinism), but not to worry, because God knows where it will end–as if God’s omniscience could compensate for what God’s omniscience failed to provide, namely, an end-directed process.

  28. I, too, am disappointed with the reaction of some (not all) YEC advocates. Personally, I have much sympathy for the YEC position because it is, in my opinion, grounded in an earnest search for truth. If uniformatarianism is false, as Barry pointed out, then the YEC position is a sensible solution. While some of the details of the YEC argument may change over time, the foundational principle does not change. Barry just happens to believe that uniformatarianism is true and he agrees that this is only an operating assumption.

    On the other hand, Barry’s YEC critics must acknowledge that their scientific methodology, like the TE methodology, begins with faith, not observation. The difference is that YEC proponents begin their scientific investigation with unshakable faith in the Bible and the TEs begin their scientific investigation with unshakable faith in Darwin. Personally, I accept the Bible and reject Darwin, so my choice between those two options certainly goes with the YECs. Still, the fact remains that scientific methodology begins with an analysis of data, not a confession of faith.

    For my part, I think there is some chance that the YEC position could be the correct one, but I don’t think it is the best bet. On the other hand, there is no chance at all that the TE position could be true as it is currently conceived. A purposeful, mindful God does not use a purposeless, mindless process to attain a purposeful end. There is no reason for anyone to open up their minds to that kind of nonsense. As Chesterton says, “the purpose of opening the mind is to close it on something solid–truth.” That also means closing out error.

  29. StephenB 28

    If uniformatarianism is false, as Barry pointed out, then the YEC position is a sensible solution. While some of the details of the YEC argument may change over time, the foundational principle does not change. Barry just happens to believe that uniformatarianism is true and he agrees that this is only an operating assumption.

    Well put.

    On the other hand, Barry’s YEC critics must acknowledge that their scientific methodology, like the TE methodology, begins with faith, not observation… Still, the fact remains that scientific methodology begins with an analysis of data, not a confession of faith.

    YECs would point out that ‘faith’ in the Word of God is more reasonable (and epistemologically solid) than faith in uniformitarianism.

    There can be no observations without an immense apparatus of preexisting theory. Before sense experiences become “observations” we need a theoretical question, and what counts as a relevant observation depends upon a theoretical frame into which it is to be placed. Repeatable observations that do not fit into an existing frame have a way of disappearing from view, and the experiments that produced them are not revisited. ~ Richard Lewontin

    People only see what they are prepared to see. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

  30. Creatoblepas,

    Can you please give me a citation that shows that the speed of light is decreasing. I would like to read it.

    I am uncomfortable with the rejection of uniformitarianism because it makes me wonder, what can we really know? Are we in a universe that tries to deceive us?

  31. 31
    Barry Arrington

    As usual, StephenB said what I had in mind better than I did.

  32. 32

    Barry,

    “TEs are like YECs in this respect — they cling to a scientific view that runs counter to the obvious evidence because of their prior commitments.”

    I think some of the YECs are responding to the above sentence. That you didn’t mean it to be condescending seems clear in your follow up responses, but it could come off that way in the original post. As a YEC, I know that I don’t “cling to the scientific view that runs counter to the obvious evidence because of” my prior commitments. I just think the little evidence humans have at their disposal actually better supports the Biblical view.

    And this is coming from someone who actually accepted the old-age theory of the earth for several years. But, the more I studied the issue, the more I began to see how much opposing evidence one has to ignore in order to hold the old-age theory up, which makes me wonder: Wouldn’t it be great to have a thread where everyone pulled up a chair and threw all the “known” evidence into the circle and see it where it all leads?

  33. 33

    I tried very hard to be respectful while disagreeing.

    So as long as you’re respectful it’s okay to have no clue what you’re talking about?

  34. 34

    On the other hand, Barry’s YEC critics must acknowledge that their scientific methodology, like the TE methodology, begins with faith, not observation.

    I do acknowledge that. And so do yours. So does everybody’s.

  35. Barry,
    I like your post, and while both you and ted are prickly opponents, I do think ted’s response avoided the substance of your post and purposely took offense at an unimportant detail. You might have been gracious just so that he wouldn’t have had an excuse to avoid your most insightful critique, or rather, that his avoidance would have been made more obvious.

    And while I think your analogy between YEC and TE is spot on, there is yet another way in which both err. That is, just because a disreputable source uses your favorite argument doesn’t invalidate the argument. Any you say yourself that God *could* have done it that way. But what invalidates the argument is precisely that concession.

    There are many things that God cannot do. He cannot lie, he cannot change, he cannot make a mistake, etc. He is true to himself.

    But making fossils appear old isn’t lying, is it?

    Yes and no. We do not have the authority to judge God, and tell him he is wrong, which is what accusing him of lying would be. God is truth. So what he makes is true. Rather, if he made it appear to be old when it wasn’t, then there is a problem in our understanding of the truth that is God. It’s a hermeneutics problem.

    But if you pick up a book on hermeneutics in the hopes of knowing whether making fossils look old violates some principle, you will run into the “hermeneutical circle” which says that our concepts of right and wrong inform our hermeneutical method, and our hermeneutical method informs our concepts of right and wrong. There is no way to know for certain that we are interpreting the Bible and Science correctly.

    All that effort and we are right back to saying that TE and YEC cannot be evaluated! Much use that diversion accomplished!

    But wait, there is a way out of the hermeneutical circle. It’s called person. Once we insert ourselves into the hermeneutical circle, we are no longer talking about “God’s truth” or “your truth” but we are talking about “my salvation” and “my hope” and “my responsibility”. It isn’t just that the Bible is right, but that it is the way of my salvation. It isn’t just that the Bible is true, but that it is the power of God unto salvation.

    THen when we ask “Could God create fossils to look old?” the answer isn’t “he has the power” or “he doesn’t have the right”, the answer is “Ask him. He’ll tell you.” What does Psalm 19 say, “Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.” The brother of Jesus writes “you have not because you ask not.”

    And this is the real reason both TE and YEC err. Because they think they cannot ask, or perhaps because they think God cannot answer.

    For whenever we say, “we can never know X”, where X might be “true age of fossil” or “true purpose to evolution” or “nature of the Trinity” we are de-personalizing God. We are judging him, we are limiting him, we are treating him as if he does not know what he is doing when he made us with brains to think and mouths to ask.

    A far more humble position in both hermeneutics and science is to say “I do not know, but I can ask.”

  36. Christbearer,

    I would really like it if a YEC did an article summarizing its best evidence and positions. I would be curious to read it.

  37. Robert Sheldon,

    That which leads a man to pray is from God. Thank you.

  38. 38

    Collin, that would take a book. I suggest this one:

    http://www.amazon.com/The-New-.....0852346921

  39. 39
    Barry Arrington

    Tragic Mishap, you are warned.

  40. Thanks TM

  41. bevets, you raise some interesting and thoughtful points. I appreciate your comments very much. For my part, it helps to make a distinction between epistemology and methodology.

    epistemology:

    To be sure, all investigations, indeed, all thought, begins with certain epistemological assumptions, such as the law of non-contradiction,the law of causality, the principle of sufficient reason etc. We do not reason to these self-evident truths; we reason from them. In keeping with that point, it is only through them that we can interpret evidence in a reasonable manner

    methodology:

    On the other hand, a methodology is simply a step-by step protocol that is based on those principles. Let’s consider a few of them from various disciplines. Example 1: Define problem, analyze alternatives, make a decision. Example 2 Take action, consult feedback, change approach, take new action. Example 3: Observe data, take notes, conduct experiment, etc.

    Science is, in large part, associated with the protocol of observing particulars through observation and then drawing inferences about the universal population That is what we do with statistics. We observe particulars in the form of a sample size and then draw inferences about the universal population. If we could not begin with the observation of a particular, as opposed to beginning with an assumption, then there could be no such thing as a statistical inference–no such thing as any inference. Our conclusions would be mere repetitions of our assumptions and our scientific reasoning would be totally circular. Under those circumstances, ID could not make an “inference to the best explanation,” because there would be no such thing as an inference.

    YEC has a different protocol. It begins with an analysis of God’s word and seeks to harmonize the data with it. Science, though, needs it own room to breathe. If science was simply the act of harmonizing the data to match God’s word, it would not have the power to confirm God’s word. On the other hand, if, with its protocol, science corroborates truths found in Scripture, which has a different protocol, that would be far more impressive. Indeed, that is the case. Truths provided by God through his Divine revelation are consistent with truths apprehended through God’s revelation in nature. Faith and reason are perfectly compatible. TEs do not believe this, to their discredit.

  42. –tragic mishap: “I do acknowledge that. (YEC methodology begins with faith). And so do yours. So does everybody’s.”

    What do you think of my answer to that argument @41

  43. 43

    YECs are in the business of Truth. As such, we acknowledge that divine revelation constitutes the highest possible level of truth available. As such, science is flawed if it doesn’t match divine revelation. So the goal of a creation scientist is to match science to divine revelation to make science better.

    I reject your idea of science as a process which is pure and free from subjectivity through the use of standardized protocols, especially when we’re dealing with such highly theoretical models as modern physics is used to dealing with. For instance, is your belief in current astrophysical models so strong that you accept, solely on the basis of the theory, that large percentages of both its matter and energy are unobserved? Would that not be unacceptable according to your Example 3? There are many physicists who accept this and go looking for evidence of dark matter. There are others who reject it and go looking for a better theory. Both are doing science. Yet there is no methodology that dictates a scientist do one thing or another. One may prefer that a theory be “mathematically beautiful.” What possible methodology could justify this? Others may prefer that a theory account for all observable evidence and not posit the unobservable. But again, what possible methodological protocols justify this?

    In short, the questions you ask and the problems you see with current science depend entirely on a subjective lens through which all humans interpret reality. The fact that creation scientists choose to accept Genesis as historical fact and divine revelation and view reality through that lens is no more or less legitimate than preferring string theory because it is “mathematically beautiful.”

  44. Collin said he wants evidence that the speed of light is slowing down.

    Barry Setterfield is the original guy who first posited this idea I think. Do a search for his name and maybe you can find some of his research.

    However, I think his ideas have pretty much been found to be flawed even among YECs so you are probably right that you won’t find any. However, the fact remains that we cannot PROVE that it did not change. We have good reason to believe it did not because it would contradict Einstein’s theory of relativity as well as cause some other headaches for scientists, but it cannot be proven in the scientific sense of the word.

    In fact, if you do a search on the web for speed of light change or something like that, you will find that there are even non-creationist scientists who are open to the possibility of the speed of light having changed in the past, even on earth. I found one article that argues for an increase in the speed of light and was published in New Scientist back in 2004. Sure, the idea has problems, but it is not only creationists who are/were open to this idea.

  45. Barry,

    Just out of curiosity, what are you warning Tragic for? His attitude? His posting a link? Are there rules I’m not familiar with? Thanks.

    tj

  46. Flannery, in your post you said this:

    My problem with the YEC position is two-fold: 1) The particular (one might say idiosyncratic) exegesis of Genesis to which YECs are committed is by no means demanded to retain orthodoxy, and a number of important church fathers have refused such a hyperlexic reading of the text; and 2) if so many features of nature are indeed illusory, where do we draw the epistemological line?

    I have a question about each of your points. First point, are you aware that the vast majority of early Church Fathers and the OT Jewish scholars held to a YEC position?

    “Let me concede that young earth creationism was largely the position of the church from the Church Fathers through the Reformers. (though there were exceptions, such as Origen and Augustine).”

    Dr. William Dembski

    He mentions Augustine and Origen as exceptions, but actually both of them were YECers, although they used a symbolic interpretation of the days. Augustine thought it must have been an instantaneous creation, but he was a YECer as was Origen. And in fact, Augustine changed his views on allegory late in his life. His book “On Genesis Literally Interpreted” was written toward the end of his life and in it he renounces all allegorical and typological interpretation like he had used in his previous exegesis of Genesis. He believed in a literal Adam and Eve and a literal Garden of Eden.

    Just because someone recognizes some symbolism in the account does not mean they also do not believe it was literal. In fact, I think God is amazing. He uses things like the 6 days of creation on purpose to get His point across clearly. He created in 6 days for the very purpose of giving us humans the pattern for 6 days of work and one of rest in the 7 day week. And He told us as much in Exodus.

    Anyway, I’m just curious as to what evidence you have to back up that claim about the early church fathers, because I’m not aware of it.

    Why do you call the normal plain reading of Scripture that believers practiced for centuries a “hyperlexic interpretation” of the text? Jesus himself believed in Moses and even a young earth. Was He too practicing a “hyperlexic interpretation” of His own Word?

    Also, point number 2. “If so many features of nature are indeed illusory, where do we draw the epistemological line?”

    Why do you say that many features of nature are illusory? If God tells us in His Word how He did it and when, then why are they illusory? He is being very up front and clear about it. He is giving us hints as to how to interpret the evidence we see. If we reject those hints, how can He be accused of being illusory?

    Fossils look old? What if they were mostly formed during the flood along with most of the geologic rock record? Would they still look ancient then? I don’t know about you, but to me, this is not being illusory.

    I hold no ill will for YECs, but some seem to use the age of the earth as a line-in-the-sand issue and a litmus test for fellowsip. That is unfortunate.

    I agree. And, on the other hand, I hold no ill-will for OECs, but some seem to look down on us and ridicule us with disdain. That is unfortunate.

  47. 47

    Why do you call the normal plain reading of Scripture that believers practiced for centuries a “hyperlexic interpretation” of the text?

    And this in a conversation where those who don’t take an “obvious” interpretation of the scientific evidence are ridiculed.

    Which standard is higher? Which one should the obvious interpretation be taken at the expense of the other? If your answers to these questions are different, then I say it’s you who have the logical problem, not YECs.

  48. –tragic mishap: “In short, the questions you ask and the problems you see with current science depend entirely on a subjective lens through which all humans interpret reality.”

    I argued that scientific epistemology begins with assumptions, but that scientific methodology does not–and I explained why that is the case. If, as you say, scientific mmethodology depends on and begins with assumptions, how does one avoid circular reasoning and how is a scientific inference possible?

  49. StephenB said:

    On the other hand, if, with its protocol, science corroborates truths found in Scripture, which has a different protocol, that would be far more impressive. Indeed, that is the case. Truths provided by God through his Divine revelation are consistent with truths apprehended through God’s revelation in nature. Faith and reason are perfectly compatible. TEs do not believe this, to their discredit.

    StephenB, the problem is that “science”, in order to be said to corroborate or invalidate Scripture, has to arrive at conclusions based on the evidence. What principles or interpretive framework will you use to make these inferences/conclusions? In order to accurately discern the “truths” apprehended through nature, sometimes you need to start with a biblical worldview. If you don’t, you will not validate the Bible.

    Let’s take the Big Bang. YECers reject the Big Bang outright because it doesn’t fit with the Bible, but there is also scientific evidence to back up that rejection. Yes, it validates the Bible in the sense that the universe had a beginning like the Bible says, but it does not validate the Bible in terms of the history of the universe. The Bible tells us that the sun, moon, and stars were made on day 4. So, the question has to be, if it does not agree with the Bible, is it really a “truth apprehended through nature” or is it a misinterpretation of nature based on non-biblical assumptions? Although the Big Bang is accepted by a majority of scientists as the best current theory, it has many problems and fudge factors added to try and keep it afloat. There is a website – I think it is cosmologystatement.org – that gives a list of many scientists who question the Big Bang for various reasons so it is not quite as simple as you would make it out to be.

    ID too has a framework through which it interprets the evidence. The ID framework is to accept the basic assumptions and conclusions of science that come out of a uniformitarian framework of interpretation – even if it contradicts the Bible. Then they take those conclusions and go back to the Bible and find a way to read long ages into it. This is a new interpretation of the Bible since Charles Lyell and friends began spreading the uniformitarian doctrine. It also gives priority to scientific conclusions over the historical record of the Bible concerning the flood, tower of Babel, and for some even Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden.

    You said that truths provide by God in the Bible are consistent with truths apprehended through nature. We agree that they should be and that is why we use the interpretive framework that we do. Using your framework, biblical truths and the “truths” of nature are not consistent.

    The Bible is the inerrant Word of God, but nature is not inerrant. It was cursed after Adam and Eve sinned and now the once perfect creation is no longer perfect but filled with disease, suffering, and death. Weeds and thorns came into being, etc. so that now the whole creation groans waiting for it’s redemption, – if you do not realize that, you will think that God created all these things and is responsible for the suffering and even “bad” design that we see. And since God clearly tells us what happened in His Word, I don’t think this can be fairly called deceptive.

    What do you think?

  50. YECs are in the business of Truth.

    I’m probably going to regret getting into this YEC discussion, but no, I would disagree with the claim that YECs are in the business of truth. They may think they are, but we need to go where the evidence leads us – regardless of what you personally believe to be true. Truth is not subjective. And the evidence – from paleontology to astronomy to molecular data – indicates that the earth is far older than that allowed by YECs. You can’t try to fit science to your own particular sacred text. You have to be objective about this.

  51. 51

    I’m curious if anyone else is aware of a science article I read over twenty-five years ago that discussed at length the original efforts to date the stars. The first attempts came back with the answer that the stars were younger than the earth, so the scientists adjusted their formula until they got the “right answer.”

    The final answer didn’t matter to me one way or the other, but, as an engineer, it bothered me how easily they gave up on their original formula, which they had expressed complete confidence in before the tests. It also bothered me that they adjusted the formula until they got the answer they were expecting.

    I know, I know, someone will say that other things led them to adjust, but the article was clear that the reason for the adjustment was because the stars could not be younger than the earth.

    Over the years, I’ve seen numerous cases of this approach of “adjusting things until you get what you expect or want” and can’t help but wonder how often it’s really warranted… and how often it keeps us from getting to the real answer.

    Anyway, it’s been too long ago to remember the source of the article, but it was one of the major science publications during that time. If anyone else has ever run across it, please let me know.

  52. 52
    material.infantacy

    Genomicus, just my $0.02 here. Without debating endless particulars, it’s well understood that YEC begins with a sacred text because there is very good reason to believe it has the goods with regard to truth; and by necessity, more so than historical inferences and assumptions of uniformitarianism.

    This isn’t a difference which can be resolved with a worldview which rejects that the Bible is God’s word, and that God validates this by foretelling the future and recording its fulfillment, and that it’s origins are unmistakably from outside of time and space.

    The argument isn’t over facts, it’s over the interpretation of those facts, the framework in which they are interpreted, and the presumed highest authority in begetting truth; with YEC it’s the word of God, and with mainstream science it’s materialism.

    The world views are not compatible in the least, and so understandably neither are the conclusions.

  53. tjguy, All your questions @49 are good ones. I certainly agree that Christian Theology, which is unchangeable, provides higher truths than any provisional finding which science may offer.

    Naturally, though, we want to know for sure if the biblical truth we think we have attained has been reliably ascertained. Since I have already indicated what I believe to be the “interpretive framework” for science, namely the first rules of right reason–to which I would now add the rules of evidence (and a few other things I will leave for now) I turn now to the the problem of Biblical exegesis, which I think is the more important problem because it pertains to a higher truth.

    This raises a vitally important question: What is the proper standard for interpreting Scripture? I submit that our Holy Book does not, in all cases, speak for itself. If it did, there would be no disagreements about meaning and only one Christian Church would exist. But let’s return to the problem of exegesis and the ways humans study the Bible. First, we can speak of “liberals,” those who interpret Scripture in self-serving ways, reading their own preferences INTO the passages (eisegesis) Next, we can speak of truth seekers, those who interpret Scripture honestly, reading OUT of the passages what is there rather than what they might wish is there (exegesis).

    Obviously, we can safely discount anything that liberals pass along to us because we know that they distort the truth and turn it into a lie. Still, even among those who sincerely try to read what is there, we still have a problem because there are two main approaches one can take, the “Literal” interpretation and the “literalist” interpretation. (We have to pay attention to these things because each book of the bible has two authors–God and the human author. Divine Inspiration does not mean Divine dictation–it means Divine guidance in the context of human style. St Paul, for example, doesn’t write like St. Luke, or like Moses, but God is speaking through these men in every case).

    The “literal” interpretation, which is the correct approach, tries to extract the meaning the author meant to convey when he wrote the passage. It also takes into account the genre of expression, the historical context, and other important factors that will help in that analysis. The “literalist” interpretation, which is sometimes (not always) misleading, simply analyzes the words without regard for context, metaphors, or other literary devices.

    When, for example, Jesus, who is also God, said that the Father “makes the sun rise,” He was not unaware that the earth revolves around the sun, rather he was using phenomenological language to make a point about God’s power with his uneducated listeners. When He says, “If any man thirsts,” He is speaking figuratively about spiritual deprivation, not an absence of water. On the other hand, when He speaks of “eternal life,” He means that literally. Still, when He tells us to forgive those who offend us seven times seventy seven, he doesn’t mean that we should quit on the fiftieth time–he means that we should keep on forgiving indefinitely. Can you imagine what a “literalist” would do with many of these passages. Yes, Scripture is a higher order of knowledge than science, but it can illuminate science only if the standards for sound interpretation are utilized.

    You say that science is not inerrant and may produce error. Granted. Still, science sometimes gets it right (or comes close) and when it does, it will harmonize with Scripture properly interpreted, that is, Scripture understood as a faithful interpretation of what the author meant to convey. That is all I am saying. Another question is looming, though: What happens when experts disagree on what is to be take literally and what is to be taken figuratively. I will comment on that if anyone has an interest.

  54. Dear Tragic Mishap,

    In 43 you write:

    YECs are in the business of Truth. As such, we acknowledge that divine revelation constitutes the highest possible level of truth available. As such, science is flawed if it doesn’t match divine revelation. So the goal of a creation scientist is to match science to divine revelation to make science better.

    OK, so Hugh Ross does much the same and arrives at a very different conclusion. Irrespective of what you may think of Ross’s analysis, why don’t you acknowledge that “Truth” as you draw it from divine revelation found in Scripture is simply one possible interpretation of the evidence from Genesis? Irenaeus, Origen, Augustine, Bishop Basil didn’t insist upon such a literal rendering. Augustine is an interesting example in this regard. While he believed the earth to be thousands of years old, he did so because he (like most early European scholars) believed it to be based upon the best reading of nature not necessarily Scripture. Augustine was convinced that quite apart from biblical revelation, ordinary people (including non-Christians) were perfectly capable of understanding the natural world. Augustine seems to default to an understanding of natural things based upon a reading of Natural Philosophy rather than Scripture and even suggests that interpretations that go in the other direction (from Scripture to nature) can do great harm:

    Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of the world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons[emphasis added], about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason?

    Although Augustine is perhaps too harsh here, my point is hardly so strident. Why not simply admit that your reading of Genesis is just one possible interpretation. You think it “makes science better,” but in what sense “better”? I seems to me that forcings of particular readings of Scripture upon the natural world can be extremely problematic. Why not admit that YE is “an” explanation not “the only” possible explanation of Creation from a reading of Genesis.

  55. For StephenB:

    Thanks for your response. I’d like to interact with what you said a bit.

    The “literal” interpretation, which is the correct approach, tries to extract the meaning the author meant to convey when he wrote the passage. It also takes into account the genre of expression, the historical context, and other important factors that will help in that analysis. The “literalist” interpretation, which is sometimes (not always) misleading, simply analyzes the words without regard for context, metaphors, or other literary devices.

    I completely agree with you. Unless you are insinuating that YECers follow what you call the literalist method of interpretation. I think all YECs would agree with what you wrote and would believe that they are following the literal approach.

    We know that Genesis is not a book of poetry or prophecy. The writing style is that of history and the other authors and characters of the Bible take it as history. Genesis is the foundation of the Bible and is quoted more than any other book of the Bible. The use of the waw consecutive in Hebrews supports this conclusion as well.

    You didn’t respond to either of my examples as to how Genesis can help us in doing science.

    I believe that the Bible is clear on the fact that the Garden of Eden was a perfect place. It is clear on the fact that Adam and Eve were literal historical figures. It is clear on the fact that the earth was cursed as a result of sin. It is clear on the fact that the stars, sun, and moon were not made until day 4. It is clear on the fact that Adam was created first directly from the dust of the ground and then later that day, Eve was created from one of his bones. It is clear on the fact of a worldwide flood.
    Using the interpreting principles you mentioned above – trying to extract the meaning of the author as opposed to reading into it what we want to see, then all of these things I just mentioned would certainly be the most common interpretation of the texts. And, these truths seem consistently clear throughout the Bible.

    Wouldn’t you agree? Or do you feel the proper interpretation of the Bible is different than what I wrote?

    Assuming you agree, how might they affect us when we do science? Since no one was there to see the original creation, we do not know how it was created, but here we have the Creator’s testimony as to how it was created. The sun, moon and stars were not created until day 4. So, wouldn’t that affect the way we do cosmology?

    Or, should we start with the conclusions of modern cosmology that seeks to find a totally natural explanation for the origin of the universe and has come up with an old universe? In their scenario, our earth cannot possibly have been created before the sun and stars.

    None of us was around in history to witness a worldwide flood, but the Bible is clear on this – so this is a hugely important fact for geologists to consider when interpreting the rock record. Wouldn’t this affect the way we do geologoy?

    Or, do we start with what science which means we start with uniformitarian assumptions, deny a worldwide flood, and find a way to read a local flood into the text in spite of the clear meaning of the text?

    What do you think the author of Genesis was trying to communicate to us when he wrote Genesis 6-9? Do you honestly think he meant that there was a local flood? I’d love to hear how you approach these chapters?

    In Genesis 1, we are told over and over again that there was morning, evening, and then given the day and it’s number. Wherever we find the word day used in Scripture in conjunction with a number, it always refers to a 24 hour period. There is one questionable use of day in a prophetic book, but that is not history. The use of the waw consecutive in Genesis one makes it plain that this was history and not poetry.

    Knowing about the result of the curse helps us better understand the Creator and avoid jumping to wrong conclusions about God – ie that He is a bad designer, that He is responsible for the suffering and disease in the world. We might jump to the conclusion as many atheists do that God is cruel because of the method He used to create the world. We might think He is not so smart because of certain things that do not work so well in the world today – or examples of bad design.

    Nature can tell us of God’s existence, His greatness, power, creativity, and wisdom, but that’s about it. Plus, we have to remember too that nature has been cursed as a result of sin. There were some big changes that took place at the curse. We don’t know exactly what they were, but these changes could give us an inaccurate view of God and could even possibly affect our science. That is why the Bible is superior to science.
    For instance, if animals were vegetarians up until that time, that would affect how we view the fossil record. If there was no death in God’s world up until that time, that would affect the way we look at the fossil record. Even if you claim there was animal death before that time, it is clear that physical death for humans was not a part of God’s original creation. That would affect how we look at the fossil record, would it not? These are truths that science could not know and is not allowed to consider when investigation origins and coming up with theories.

    So nature itself is not an accurate teacher about God. If we looked at only nature to understand God, we might think God didn’t communicate His truth to us very accurately. We might think He mislead mankind for thousands of years until Charles Lyell, who wanted to free science from Moses, came along. And now thanks to his work, we now have the knowledge we need to correctly interpret Scripture and reject the YEC position as well as a worldwide flood.

    When Jesus says that God created them “male and female from the beginning of creation” in Mark 10:6, what do you think that means? Do we take Him at his word or do we go with the OEC position that puts man’s creation after 99.9% of the history of the universe took place.
    How do you approach such a passage from an OEC perspective?

    When, for example, Jesus, who is also God, said that the Father “makes the sun rise,” He was not unaware that the earth revolves around the sun, rather he was using phenomenological language to make a point about God’s power with his uneducated listeners. When He says, “If any man thirsts,” He is speaking figuratively about spiritual deprivation, not an absence of water. On the other hand, when He speaks of “eternal life,” He means that literally. Still, when He tells us to forgive those who offend us seven times seventy seven, he doesn’t mean that we should quit on the fiftieth time–he means that we should keep on forgiving indefinitely. Can you imagine what a “literalist” would do with many of these passages.

    Again, I am in complete agreement with you here. I have a question for you though. Do you think YECs do this with Scripture? Do you know any YECs who make the mistakes you are referring to above? I don’t, but perhaps you do. I went to a YEC Bible school and was taught the exact same things you are saying here.

    Yes, Scripture is a higher order of knowledge than science, but it can illuminate science only if the standards for sound interpretation are utilized.

    You say that science is not inerrant and may produce error. Granted. Still, science sometimes gets it right (or comes close) and when it does, it will harmonize with Scripture properly interpreted, that is, Scripture understood as a faithful interpretation of what the author meant to convey. That is all I am saying. Another question is looming, though: What happens when experts disagree on what is to be take literally and what is to be taken figuratively. I will comment on that if anyone has an interest.

    I would rather have you comment on why you think you do not need to take a global flood into account when you do geology and on why you think you do not need to take the order of creation into account when you do cosmology and why you think you do not need to take the curse into account when you interpret the history of life.

    But, as you agreed, science can make mistakes. So, the problem is, how do we know when science has gotten it right and when it is in error. I think it is highly instructive to remember that most science is done using methodological naturalism. The assumption is that God had no role in anything. So, Scriptural references to the flood, order of creation, Tower of Babel and origin of language, etc are all ignored. However, YECs think that just as the Scriptures can help an archeologist properly interpret his find, so it can help scientists properly interpret their evidence.

    I agree that when science gets it right, it will harmonize with Scripture properly interpreted, but I highly doubt whether rejecting the flood can rightfully be called “proper interpretation”.

    I highly doubt whether the old earth position which only came onto the scene and became popular in the last 150 years or so, can be really called the “proper interpretation” in light of the way Genesis is written.

    If the author meant to say that the days of Genesis are long periods of time, there were ways to say that. But God used the word day for a reason. In fact He clearly tells us that reason in Ex. 20:11.

    Don’t you think that God knew how people would interpret what He wrote? In other words, don’t you think He would have known that for thousands of years the truth of Scripture would have been hidden from humans if He used the word “day”? Don’t you think He knew that thanks only to godless men who rejected Scripture, would we ever uncover the truth He was trying to communicate to us?

    I think He knew that. So I highly doubt that God would have chosen to use the word “day” if He didn’t really mean a 24 hour period of time. How about you?

  56. StephenB

    The “literal” interpretation, which is the correct approach, tries to extract the meaning the author meant to convey when he wrote the passage. It also takes into account the genre of expression, the historical context, and other important factors that will help in that analysis. The “literalist” interpretation, which is sometimes (not always) misleading, simply analyzes the words without regard for context, metaphors, or other literary devices.

    Probably, so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Genesis 1-11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that (a) creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience; … Or, to put it negatively, the apologetic arguments which suppose the “days” of creation to be long eras of time, the figures of years not to be chronological, and the flood to be a merely local Mesopotamian flood, are not taken seriously by any such professors, as far as I know. ~ James Barr Regius Professor of Hebrew at Christ Church, Oxford 1978-1989

    So far as the days of Genesis 1 are concerned, I am sure that Professor Barr was correct… I have not met any Hebrew professors who had the slightest doubt about this. ~ Hugh Williamson Regius Professor of Hebrew at Christ Church, Oxford 1992-Present

  57. 57

    Stephen @48

    I argued that scientific epistemology begins with assumptions, but that scientific methodology does not–and I explained why that is the case. If, as you say, scientific mmethodology depends on and begins with assumptions, how does one avoid circular reasoning and how is a scientific inference possible?

    I don’t think you understood what I was saying. I was not saying “scientific methodologies,” if I have understood you correctly here, require assumptions. I was saying that our scientific epistemology directs when, where and to what problems we apply our scientific methodologies. Thus for creationists the “obvious” interpretation of some scientific evidence is a problem, so we apply various methodologies to try and solve it. For others it is not a problem, so they apply the same methodologies, broadly speaking, elsewhere. None of this means creationists are not doing the same exact thing as any other scientists are. We are not using different methodologies and we don’t deny the validity of scientific methodology within the realm of science. Creationists wouldn’t be working on the problem of the age of the earth if they didn’t believe there was a problem for them in that area.

  58. 58

    Stephen @

    You say that science is not inerrant and may produce error. Granted. Still, science sometimes gets it right (or comes close) and when it does, it will harmonize with Scripture properly interpreted, that is, Scripture understood as a faithful interpretation of what the author meant to convey.

    So basically you’re agreeing with creationists. You understand why creationists would have problems with different portions of science than you do because of their different interpretation of Scripture. So why do you pretend creationists are different qualitatively? Apparently you believe that your interpretation of Scripture is demonstrably correct. This ought to be fun. All we have to do is play for a draw and we win. Bad move Stephen.

  59. 59

    Flannery @54

    Irrespective of what you may think of Ross’s analysis, why don’t you acknowledge that “Truth” as you draw it from divine revelation found in Scripture is simply one possible interpretation of the evidence from Genesis?

    I do acknowledge that. What’s being asserted in this thread is that YECs are qualitatively different than the cool kids who believe the earth is old. I’m only arguing that we are doing the same exact thing you are.

  60. The arguments are qualitatively different. You are forcing a particular rendering of Scripture upon the natural world regardless of what the prepondance of the evidence of the natural world suggests. Instead, you prefer to shoehorn your reading of Genesis into anfractuous arguments about the speed of light, geological strata, etc. If an alternative view of Genesis does not a) fly in the face of natural evidence, and b) has little bearing upon orthodoxy (i.e. the resurrection, the Trinity, accountability and Divine judgement, etc.), why insist upon what seems to be a more difficult if not idiosyncratic rendering of Scripture? I think Augustine would have agreed.

    But if you acknowledge that an OE interpretation is a possible alternative to a YE interpretation, then really the issue is rather moot. You’d have to admit, however, that there are qualitative differences in the respective positions. Even Paul Nelson and John Mark Reynolds admit as much, stating “young earth creationism is generally underdeveloped. It is not ready for a for such a specific interchange [with critics]. . . . In many cases, young earth creationists would need decades of fully funded research just to begin to get a grasp on a new way of looking at the mountain of current data.” That was more than ten years ago and the situation has changed little, bearing out the comment just quoted.

    It seems to me the difference is OECs say the verdict is in, the data suggests an OE; YEC is still in its promissory note phase. Now that seems a qualitative difference to me. Now in fairness OE could be shown to be wrong (that’s always a possibility), but at present that just doesn’t seem likely. And that’s a qualitative difference.

  61. Barry-

    There is one version of YEC that has an old universe and a young earth- Dr Humphrey’s “Starlight and Time”- God created the universe using relativity, ie time dilation caused by the gravity well of the white hole.

  62. I have limited acquaintance with the arguments of Barr, but based on what I have read, and heard, I’m inclined to interpret Barr somewhat along the lines that Deuce sets forth above.

    In Barr’s podcast debate with Behe of about a year or two ago — a debate which was a model of civility — Barr seemed to argue as follows:

    1. Natural science is not the only source of truth.

    2. Intelligent design arguments are not scientific arguments.

    3. Intelligent design arguments are philosophical arguments, or theological arguments.

    4. But philosophical or theological arguments can be just as true as scientific arguments, because, as already argued, natural science is not the only source of truth.

    5. The public has too high an expectation of scientists; it expects them not only to be good at identifying natural causes, but at making grand pronouncements about reality. I thinks they must have deep philosophical or theological wisdom. In fact, scientists are no wiser philosophically or theologically than the man on the street, and on the big questions they are very unsafe guides. The question whether or not there is design in nature is one of those big questions.

    6. By lowering our expectations of scientists, we protect religious belief from damaging claims by over-reaching, unwise scientists. From scientists we should expect efficient-cause explanations for things. That will keep their hands off religion and theology.

    7. We are perfectly free, no matter what certain aggressive atheist scientists may say, to infer design in nature, based on philosophical or theological grounds.

    8. Intelligent design arguments can therefore be rational, persuasive, and even true; they just aren’t scientific.

    Now I found much of what Barr argued to be reasonable. I liked his criticism of the over-reaching of the scientists, and I liked his warning to the public that scientists — his colleagues — are no wiser on deep issues than the man in the street.

    I also liked his admission that ID arguments could be both rational and true.

    Barr was basically accepting the modern understanding of natural science as a limited endeavor aimed at accounting for efficient causes, and he was pushing questions of teleology into the areas of philosophy and theology. This division, while it may be unsatisfactory to many of us here (it’s unsatisfactory to me), has a long pedigree, going back to Bacon and Descartes, two of the spiritual founders of modern science.

    It’s true that the TEs over at BioLogos also make a distinction between natural science, with its emphasis on efficient causes, and theology, which can talk about design or purpose. So there is a superficial resemblance with the view of Barr. But I think there is a big difference. I think that for the BioLogos TEs, reason cannot infer design in nature. For BioLogos, design in nature is something that we can see only through the eye of faith. For Barr, design in nature can be perceived by the reason. I think that Barr’s Catholicism — which allows for a limited natural theology — gives him a different perspective, one in some ways compatible with ID. The fideism of the TEs at BioLogos, however, makes any imputation of design purely a private religious truth, a matter of religious taste, so to speak.

    Thus, on BioLogos there have been many slurs, direct and indirect, against the tradition of natural theology. These slurs are made by people (scientists dabbling in theology) who don’t know the primary texts of the Christian tradition in which natural theology is discussed, and clearly proceed from Protestant, especially Barthian and Pietist, prejudices. You don’t get that from Barr.

    I thus see Barr as offering a more nuanced form of TE than that offered by the BioLogos-TEs.

    I cannot speak for Barr’s personal motives. I don’t know the man. I would therefore hesitate to say that he is animated by the desire to be one of the cool people. I don’t have enough personal insight into him to say that. I think that at BioLogos, however, there is plenty of circumstantial evidence to suggest that this is strong motivation. We know, as a matter of biographical fact, that many regular and occasional posters on BioLogos — Falk, Giberson, Venema, Lamoureux, Isaac — used to be fundamentalist creationists of various sorts, often of the YEC variety. When they were of this persuasion, their science was ridiculed by their teachers and/or colleagues as primitive, ignorant, etc. Many of them have indicated the “crisis of faith” that evolutionary theory put them through. They fought the spiritual battle of their lives to come to acceptance of evolution, and they never want to go back to where there were — being ridiculed by both secular and Christian scientific colleagues for rejecting evolution.

    We see evidence of this in Darrel Falk’s public overtures to Dawkins and Coyne of a couple of years ago, which amounted to: “Don’t confuse us with those ID and YEC people; we accept good science, too! Please accept us as your biological colleagues!” Of course, the pleas fell on deaf ears; Dawkins and Coyne continued to treat BioLogos with contempt, and soon Coyne was savagely (and unjustly) attacking the appointment of Francis Collins to the NIH. (As any excluded teenager knows, flattering the cool kids will usually not get you into their inner circle; once you are stereotyped as a nerd, geek, or sissy, you stay that way.)

    In assessing motivation, we also have to keep in mind the scientific track record of Barr vs. the BioLogos TEs. As I understand it — correct me if I’m wrong — Barr is a published physicist who is respected among his secular colleagues. He doesn’t need to prove himself. But as far as I have discovered via internet search, the only biological publication Falk ever had was his doctoral dissertation, and that is “published” only as a copy in the library of the university that granted him his Ph.D. Possibly he published a few articles during his 8 or 9 years at a real university, but if so, I can find no record of them. And it certainly appears that he has not published a single scientific article since his “transition to Christian higher education” nearly 30 years ago. Giberson’s track record is similarly invisible. Possibly he published a few articles in physics soon after graduating, but he seems to have settled in very quickly at a Nazarene College, and to have adopted the life of an undergraduate teacher rather than a physics researcher. I can’t find any scientific articles of his on the internet, and his web site, which trumpets all his popular publications, lists not a single peer-reviewed technical article. Applegate graduated with her Ph.D. only a couple of years ago. Her mini-biography on BioLogos mentions no publications at all. She apparently does not have either a permanent academic position with any university, or any post-doctoral fellowships. Dennis Venema has, according to the web site at his university, about half a dozen publications, but at least one of those is in the ASA journal, and that doesn’t count as a peer-reviewed technical publication. So, in short, the “big guns” of BioLogos, the ones who preach about what “good science” requires, have, among the whole lot of them, far fewer peer-reviewed scientific articles than Mike Behe does alone. So we are dealing with a group of people who have very little confirmation from the secular scientific world of their scientific talents. Such people are very likely to be motivated by the need for approval from mainstream scientists — from the “cool kids” who accept neo-Darwinism.

    I think that Barr is not like that. I think also that Polkinghorne, Gingerich (Harvard astronomer), Russell (scholar in theology and science), and Murphy (accomplished physicist prior to becoming a pastor) are not like that. I think they are all secure in their own skins, knowing that they are or were good scientists, and don’t have to seek the approval of anyone. Keep in mind that all of these guys are physicists/astronomers, and that they have no need to worry about what neo-Darwinian biologists think of them. They could thumb their noses at neo-Darwinian biology if they wanted to, and get away with it; their status in physics would protect them. (Remember that biology is still considered a junior and inferior and less rigorous science by most physicists.) So if they accept Darwinian biology, presumably they are persuaded by the arguments for it, not cowed into it by pressure from the biologists.

    So I think that Barr disagrees with us, not out of any desire to win the favor of biologists, but because he is persuaded (for good reasons or bad) that there is a lot of evidence for Darwinian biology, and because he has a different understanding of the division between science and philosophy and theology. We can try to educate him on the gross scientific defects of neo-Darwinian theory, and we can dispute his division of the branches of knowledge which excludes design arguments from natural science; but I suspect that he is wholly sincere and not motivated (not very much, anyway) by the desire for the approval of Coyne, Dawkins, Lewontin, etc.

  63. Flannery 60

    The arguments are qualitatively different. You are forcing a particular rendering of historical science upon the Word of God regardless of what the prepondance of the evidence of biblical hermeneutics suggests.

    General Revelation has more ambiguity than Special Revelation. If we read the text “Brutus stabbed Caesar” we have a clear idea of what happened REGARDLESS of how the evidence may appear.

    or

    Suppose there is a team of BRILLIANT scientists in China and they have a system of telescopes and mirrors that allows them to watch George Bush every time he is outside or near a window. A couple minor points: No one on this team can understand English (and they do not have access to an interpreter). The telescopes and mirrors have only been operational for 3 weeks, but they have a video record of EVERY sighting since the system launched. This gives them the advantage of being able to rewind the video and verify any theories they come up with.

    You have been told that you will win 29 million yuan if you are able to answer one question correctly: ‘What grade did George receive in 8th grade Math?’. You are given the opportunity to consult the BRILLIANT scientists (through an interpreter) and they inform you that they are quite confident George received an ‘A’. They have some BRILLIANT and FASCINATING observations that explain how they arrived at this conclusion. They also ALL agree. (All 7,342,326 of them)

    You also have George’s 8th grade report card. It has been authenticated by George’s 8th grade teacher, principal, and superintendent. The report card says that George’s grade was actually a ‘C+’. Now you have a quandary: How will you answer the 29 Million Yuan Question? Will you throw caution to the wind and disagree with the 7,342,326 BRILLIANT Chinese scientists? Suppose they send a delegation of handwriting experts and that delegation tells you ‘That may look like a ‘C+’, but if you hold the report card at an angle and squint, you will have to agree that the grade is actually an ‘A”

  64. Stephen writes:

    “Truths provided by God through his Divine revelation are consistent with truths apprehended through God’s revelation in nature. Faith and reason are perfectly compatible. TEs do not believe this, to their discredit.”

    Anyone inclined to believe this is invited to read about my work at http://biologos.org/blog/introducing-ted-davis.

    BE SURE TO LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW that you can download there. It takes about an hour, and it constitutes the best introduction to the ideas of this particular TE (yours truly) that is available anywhere.

    Why not listen to it yourself, Stephen, before discrediting anyone and everyone you may disagree with?

  65. Timaeus @62 discusses Barr (thank you for defending him) and points to differences he perceives with TEs at BioLogos. I’m presently one of the TEs at BioLogos, and I view design arguments pretty much as Barr does–they can be rationally defended, but they aren’t scientific (per se). That has been my view for a long time; I’ve aired it here and elsewhere many times. It’s not simply a matter of private faith–that is a caricature of my views (for example), although I don’t think that belief in God is something that arises *without* faith. IMO, the main distinction between ID and TE appears to be exactly this: whether or not design arguments (which I and many other TEs will make) are “scientific.”

    Polkinghorne would perhaps be the person most associated with such an attitude. His book, “Belief in God in an Age of Science,” is a pertinent example; see the title essay.

  66. Ted,

    Would you say that there are other sources of truth than empiricism and revelation? If so, what are they?

    I mean, there is philosophy, but that is making inferences and deductions based on what is observed or revealed, imho.

    So to give an example, is SETI a religion? Do they know that extraterrestrials exist without having seen or heard from them (or received revelation that they exist)? If so, how could they?

  67. 67
    Barry Arrington

    Timaeus: “Keep in mind that all of these guys are physicists/astronomers, and that they have no need to worry about what neo-Darwinian biologists think of them.”

    Your focus is too narrow. It is not just neo-Darwinian biologists that scholars need to worry about when they would dare question academic orthodoxy, because neo-Darwinism is part of the larger materialist hegemony in academia. A scholar bucks that orthodoxy at his own risk, even an astro-physicist. Just ask Guillermo Gonzalez.

  68. –tragic mishap: “I don’t think you understood what I was saying. I was not saying “scientific methodologies,” if I have understood you correctly here, require assumptions. I was saying that our scientific epistemology directs when, where and to what problems we apply our scientific methodologies.”

    If you will recall, I am the one who made the distinction between epistemology and methodology. Scientific methodology uses a protocol that begins with observation. If you disagree with me, then pleases answer my questions: If scientific methodology requires assumptions, how is a scientific inference possible and how is circular reasoning avoided.

  69. 69

    Again you are not understanding me, Stephen. I was responding to 41 with 43, after which you asked me that question. I do not agree with your interpretation of 43, because you are assuming that I believe “scientific methodologies” require assumptions. I never said that. If I’m reading you right, I think I can tacitly agree with the distinction and accept that scientific methodologies do not require assumptions.

  70. “Truths provided by God through his Divine revelation are consistent with truths apprehended through God’s revelation in nature. Faith and reason are perfectly compatible. TEs do not believe this, to their discredit.”

    –Ted Davis “Anyone inclined to believe this is invited to read about my work at http://biologos.org/blog/introducing-ted-davis.”

    Ted, you are too funny. You can disabuse me of that posture anytime by confessing that God’s designs are evident in all of nature, just as it says in Romans 1:20. Biology, I hasten to remind you, is part of nature.

    –”Why not listen to it yourself, Stephen, before discrediting anyone and everyone you may disagree with?”

    Why not answer my follow up questions from past discussions and earn the right to be read?

  71. 71

    Flannery @60

    It seems to me the difference is OECs say the verdict is in, the data suggests an OE; YEC is still in its promissory note phase. Now that seems a qualitative difference to me.

    That’s not a “qualitative” difference. That’s the definition of quantitative. You’re trying to take Nelson’s quote and turn it into the idea that there’s something fundamentally different about creationism versus other scientific theories. That’s not even close to what Nelson was saying.

  72. –tragic mishap: “I never said that. If I’m reading you right, I think I can tacitly agree with the distinction and accept that scientific methodologies do not require assumptions.”

    In that case, it would seem that we agree on the essentials. Scientific methodology and analysis does not necessarily begin with an assumption, although scientific epistemology does. How, then, does it follow that scientific reasoning, i.e. scientific protocol, “depends” on (a belief in?)( truths found in?) Genesis. Why cannot science have its own domain, albeit one which is intimately related with and compatible with) Theology?

  73. Ted Davis:

    Your recent return to active duty at BioLogos is a welcome development. I did not have you in mind when I was characterizing BioLogos TEs. Of course, now that you are back, I will have to watch my generalizations in the future.

    A number of statements have been made on BioLogos to the effect that atheists and TEs do science exactly the same way, but that TEs, unlike atheists, see design in nature, not due to their science, *and not based on any philosophical reasoning*, but because they look at nature with the eyes of faith. Barr (and presumably you and Polkinghorne) would differ from that stance, in that you all would grant the possibility of philosophical arguments for design, not scientific in themselves, but based on the results of modern science. That is not a view that is very often voiced on BioLogos. BioLogos tends to enforce a sharp cleavage between faith and science as two alien and incommensurate ways of knowing, not in contradiction but not logically related to each other. This goes hand-in-hand with a hostility to natural theology, which has been evident in a number of comments by columnists.

    Catholics and Anglicans tend to be less hostile to natural theology; thus, it is not surprising to me that Barr and Polkinghorne take the positions that they do.

    As far as “science” goes, it’s all a matter of definitions. If we define “science” as a mode of investigation which in principle cannot speak of teleology but only of efficient causes, then by definition intelligent design cannot be science. But victories won by mere definition are vacuous. The question in natural science ought to be, not, “What explanations will our arbitrary, historically-determined epistemological and methodological rules allow?” but “What rational explanation best accords with the phenomena?” If the best rational explanation involves design, then, in a broader understanding of natural science, design explanations would be perfectly scientific.

    There is no doubt that restricting science to purely efficient causes made science very productive. The question is whether that restriction does not — in some cases — put blinders on science in certain areas which will make it miss the truth about nature. Darwin’s understanding of “scientific” explanation required excluding teleological explanation; hence, if it should turn out that teleology *was* involved in the origin of species, Darwin’s theory, however methodologically correct by NCSE standards, will cause the world to believe what is not true. And how can what is not true be counted as “science”? Science means “knowledge”, and a falsehood cannot be knowledge, no matter how rigorous the method through which it was arrived at.

    The debate launched by Steve Meyer over the origin of life shows exactly the same problem; it’s clear from the objections to his argument that the BioLogos biologists, just as much as the atheist biologists, will accept only efficient-cause explanations, and would wait ten thousand years for one to come along sooner than grant that design is the best explanation. For such “scientists” the only two explanatory options are: (1) We now have an efficient-cause explanation, rendering design explanations redundant; (2) We haven’t got an efficient-cause answer YET, but someday we will, so design inferences are premature and unscientific. The artificial ruling-out of what might, in the final reckoning, be *the correct description of what actually happened*, is quite obvious. Method is ranked higher than truth on the order of priorities. This is philosophically questionable, to say the very least.

    Thus, Barr is completely correct to say that science *as typically defined* excludes design explanations, and he logically has to move all such explanations over to philosophy or theology. But a broader conception of science could embrace design explanations. We know from the history of science that such broader conceptions have existed (in pre-modern Europe, India, etc.). The modern West made a social choice to restrict the meaning of the term. But all social choices are revisable.

  74. Barry Arrington:

    Good point about Gonzalez. But of course Gonzalez’s particular teleological heresy was in astrophysics, not biology. He was punished by astrophysicists for intruding teleology into their field, not for making any comments about teleology in biology.

    But that’s a fine distinction. I agree with you that there is a general pressure on scientists to exclude teleology from their explanations.

    I think I was trying to say that the details of *a particular theory* in biology are not a matter of professional pride for a physicist. So, for example, if it turned out that Shapiro’s biology, or Denton’s biology, or some other, crushed neo-Darwinism, Barr could easily shift his allegiance away from neo-Darwinism to whatever biological alternative the biologists shift to. It’s not his field, and none of his career ambitions as a physicist are at stake, no matter which view of evolution wins out. Falk and Venema, on the other hand, perceive (wrongly) that neo-Darwinism is the future of evolutionary biology, and they perceive (wrongly) that there is advantage to be gained by siding with neo-Darwinists like Coyne, Orr, Dawkins, Lewontin, etc. And as it is biology that they very much want to be respected in, they have a motive to toady up to the neo-Darwinists.

    A physicist has only an indirect concern with the details of current evolutionary theory. So Barr is relatively freer than the others I mentioned. Not entirely free of the pressure to conform to “scientific opinion,” but free of the pressure to conform specifically to “random mutations plus natural selection.” He might personally accept the Darwinian account, but I think he only experiences about 1/3 of the peer pressure that Falk and Venema do.

    So we are disagreeing only in emphasis.

  75. Timaeus @62. For my part, I am less concerned with Barr’s motivations and more concerned with his linguistic violence:
    Non-teleological Darwinism becomes “teleological” and yet remains Darwinism, by name; Ramdomness becomes directed and yet remains randomness by name. Oh, but wait, the -non-teleology that morphed into teleology swings back to non-teleology quietly, and just long enough, to reduce biological design to an “illusion” and away we go again. Don’t you have a problem with any of that?

  76. 76

    Stephen @72,

    No reason why science can’t have its own domain. But science is not an entity. People practice science for various reasons, and therefore they enter into the “domain” of science in pursuit of various goals. The goal of showing the scientific plausibility of the Genesis account is not qualitatively different than, for instance, attempting to find a vaccine for HIV. The goal cannot be decided by science, since science isn’t an agent.

  77. Timmaeus,

    Forgive me, but it drives me nuts when people use the word “faith” as a form of knowing. I much prefer the term “revelation.” When a non-believer hears “faith” they think, “oh, like in the tooth fairy?” or “you just gotta believe, even though there’s no evidence or warrant?” To me, the only way of knowing that the Bible is true is either through historical analysis or personal revelation from the Holy Spirit. Then you have faith when you remember the personal revelation you have had and don’t abandon it when faced with temptation from the world. Faith is not the source of knowledge; faith is being confident in the knowledge you got from a trustworthy source.

  78. StephenB:

    My problem is that I don’t know Barr’s thought on neo-Darwinism that well.

    His podcast debate with Behe was on more general features of “science” as such, not the particulars of neo-Darwinism.

    I also read something he wrote a year or two ago on First Things. But I don’t recall much detailed discussion of biological details.

    Is Barr saying that mutations are *truly* random yet also directed? Or is he saying that mutations are only *apparently* random, and actually directed? If he is saying the latter, his position would be like that of Russell, and comprehensible; if he is saying the former, his position would be like that of Falk, Venema, and Applegate, and incomprehensible.

  79. tragic mishap,

    The big problem here is that “science” is so poorly defined. A long time ago, science just meant “knowledge” or some kind of research. AFter all, that’s why its “Political Science” even though its not really a “science” as most would define the word.

    I prefer to take a very broad view of the word “science.” To me “science” means any scholarly endeavor that is strongly informed by systematic observation and logical reasoning. Even if that includes history, theology, astrology etc.

  80. Collin:

    The word “faith” is very elastic in meaning, and I don’t insist on any one definition as the only correct one, but if you read enough BioLogos columns, you will find that at least some of the time, the writers use the word “faith” as I have used it. I was probably unconsciously reproducing that usage.

    I think their idea, put into coherent form, is that “faith” is the spiritual capacity that enables us to hear the extra-scientific truths that God makes known to us. It is “the eye of faith,” they would say, that enables us to look at a wild array of random mutations and see, without any scientific evidence, that God is behind them all.

    I’m not *defending* this understanding of the relationship between what we know by science and what we know by faith (or if you prefer, by revelation); I’m merely reporting it as commonly held by the TEs at BioLogos.

  81. tragic mishap @ 71

    Actually, now that you mention it, it is a quantitative AND a qualitative difference. Trust me, an accounts receivable ledger regards cash in hand versus a promissory note as a difference of both kinds. I think that’s what we have here.

  82. It’s certainly a tough question: “Is the universally acknowledged illusion of design a scientific illusion or only a philosophical or psychological one?”

    Presumably not a scientific one, because science can see through it to the unguided mechanism beneath.

    But suppose there were a dramatic miraculous intervention (much along the lines of what Darrel Falk was giving slight elbow room to on BioLogos)? Would science be able to detect it, or would it then suffer the illusion of non-design?

  83. 83

    Timaeus @ 73

    If we define “science” as a mode of investigation which in principle cannot speak of teleology but only of efficient causes, then by definition intelligent design cannot be science.

    I wouldn’t even go that far. Intelligent design counts as efficient cause if the designer “moves the particles,” which is exactly what IDists are arguing. Sounds like efficient cause to me, even if you insist on using Aristotle.

  84. 84

    Well, Flannery, why don’t you ask Nelson? If the only difference is the amount of time and money spent on each activity, that’s quantitative. That is, after all, exactly what Nelson said:

    In many cases, young earth creationists would need decades of fully funded research just to begin to get a grasp on a new way of looking at the mountain of current data.

    I don’t know where your accounting analogy came from, but it’s a poor one.

  85. 85

    Collin @ 79

    Agreed on all counts. Thought I think current circumstances require a narrower definition of science, I wish it didn’t.

  86. –tragic: “No reason why science can’t have its own domain. But science is not an entity. People practice science for various reasons, and therefore they enter into the “domain” of science in pursuit of various goals. The goal of showing the scientific plausibility of the Genesis account is not qualitatively different than, for instance, attempting to find a vaccine for HIV. The goal cannot be decided by science, since science isn’t an agent.”

    I am not sure that I understand your language, but I do know that faith and reason must be compatible or else there is no such thing as truth. The Bible contains both theology and philosophy. Romans 1:20, for example, is a philosophical statement as much as a theological statement, maybe more. In effect, it tells us that God created a rational universe ripe for investigation and, that God speaks through nature in a fashion consistent with that kind of investigation. So, when that investigation is conducted, through philosophy or science, it will, if undertaken without error, lead to truth–not the kind of truth that will save us, to be sure, but the kind of truth that will confirm the saving truth and show us that it is not contrary to reason.

    Indeed, faith illuminates reason, as I am sure you would agree. Still, institutional expressions of faith must first pass the test of reason before presuming to ask reason to submit to them. When a Muslim, for example, says that I should take the Koran on faith, or when a Christian tells me that I should take the bible on faith, I point out that I must first discern which belief system deserves to be believed, that is, which belief system passes the test of reason. I must accept one and reject the other and only reason can help me make that calculation. Admonitions to faith are useless at that point. For me, Christianity passes the test of reason so I allow that belief system to illuminate my reason.

  87. tragic:

    I understand your point. Yes, then one would think of the intelligent designer as an efficient cause. No argument. But I’m looking at the bigger picture. Why is he causing this mutation rather than that one? Or rearranging the genome this way rather than that way? Obviously, because he has an end in mind.

    You have given an example of what Dembski calls an externally imposed teleology, rather than an internally driven teleology (where the universe is naturally striving in a certain direction, to reach an inbuilt natural goal). Both are possible understandings within the ID camp.

    Note, however, that as far as design *detection* is concerned, the method is the same for either external or internal teleology. If we can show that it is wildly improbable that undirected processes would produce result X, we say that there was a plan of some kind. (Whether that plan was executed by someone pushing particles around, or by some sort of pre-programming causing a process to unfold into its natural end, the design inference itself can’t determine. Another line of investigation would be required to settle which of the two possibilities was in play.)

    My point was that “science,” understood as “natural cause explanations only,” and where “natural cause” means “no one tinkered with anything, and no one rigged anything,” can’t allow either internal or external forms of teleology.

    But if we change the definition of “science” and/or the definition of “natural cause,” then ID explanations could be scientific. And what stops us from changing the definition of science? (Or for that matter, of “natural cause”?) As far as I can see, nothing but a 400-year-old habit. But the habits of civilizations change, in the long run. Maybe 100 years from now, design explanations will be considered a legitimate part of natural science. That could easily happen, if our understanding of “science” and “nature” and “explanation” all change.

  88. StephenB,

    I am glad that you believe that Christianity passes the test of reason. So do I. But I hope your faith is not only based on reason. I hope you have had the confirmation of the Holy Spirit.

    When I read the New Testament, I got down on my knees and asked God if it was true. I got a spiritual witness, a strong feeling that it is true. I think that this is important for every believer. Not to replace reason, but in addition to it.

  89. tragic mishap,

    No, you (and presumably Nelson) assumes the promissory note is cashable “paid in full.” Neither you nor Nelson know that decades of “fully funded” research would even allow you to cash in on that note whereas the evidence at least backs the currency of OEC now in hand. I think the analogy holds. The differences are indeed quantitative and qualitative.

    But as often happens in these kinds of discussions we reach a point at which it ceases to be meaningful or productive. We’re at that “is so” “is not” point. I leave you with this: Whatever our disagreements we share much more as fellow believers who BOTH agree that creationists have not been given a fair and equitable place by the powerbrokers of modern science. Let’s leave it at that. I wish you well . . .

  90. 90

    Stephen @86: “I am not sure that I understand your language, but I do know that faith and reason must be compatible or else there is no such thing as truth.”

    I think you and I may have different views about what “faith” and “reason” are. Both are required in the practice of science. Both are also required in the practice of theology, Christianity and life in general. The idea of them being “incompatible” is nonsensical to me. Reason must flow from first principles, which can only be taken on faith. It doesn’t matter what field of endeavor one is engaging in at the time. It sounds to me like you are using “faith” as a placeholder for “theology” and “reason” as a placeholder for “science,” or even “scientific methodology.”

    “So, when that investigation is conducted, through philosophy or science, it will, if undertaken without error, lead to truth–not the kind of truth that will save us, to be sure, but the kind of truth that will confirm the saving truth and show us that it is not contrary to reason.”

    Yes, but the key here is “without error.” When I look at two sources of knowledge which ought to be compatible and see that they are not, that is a problem. (If I didn’t believe they ought to be compatible, than I wouldn’t see a problem here would I?) So I must decide which one I trust more than the other. Even allowing for different interpretations of Genesis, I believe I’m on firmer ground trusting the obvious interpretation of a divinely inspired Genesis, one which Christians accepted almost without exception for 1700+ years, and Jews for longer, than trusting in the human knowledge of the last couple hundred years, knowledge which doesn’t even claim to be divinely inspired.

    That is what my reason tells me.

  91. 91

    Flannery @89

    Neither you nor Nelson know that decades of “fully funded” research would even allow you to cash in on that note…

    No we don’t. And neither did any other scientists in history developing new and untried theories. Once again this is more a comparison between creation and the normal operation of science, not a contrast. Pursuing new theories requires faith and always has.

    I wish you well as well. Don’t take our disagreements as prohibiting fellowship. Isn’t this conversation an example of fellowship?

  92. –Collin: “I am glad that you believe that Christianity passes the test of reason. So do I. But I hope your faith is not only based on reason. I hope you have had the confirmation of the Holy Spirit.

    –When I read the New Testament, I got down on my knees and asked God if it was true. I got a spiritual witness, a strong feeling that it is true. I think that this is important for every believer. Not to replace reason, but in addition to it.”

    For my part, faith and reason are mutually reinforcing, though faith is, of course, the superior component. Indeed, I don’t think anyone can completely embrace the true faith in the absence of reason. Can I, for example, appreciate the range of Christ’s infinite mercy and humility without also understanding his majesty as God and his role as my ultimate judge? Can I discern that He has two natures, or that He is the third person of the Blessed Trinity, in the absence of reason-based exegesis. Clearly, there are no such descriptions about Him in the Bible. Yet, I believe it because I stand on the shoulders of faith-filled and sincere theologians who figured it out.

    My feelings, on the other hand, tell me to avoid all emotional conflict, remain as I am, and live a life of luxury and pleasure. My reason, on the other hand, tells me that, as Christ’s disciple, I am not greater than my master, and I must, therefore, accept the suffering that comes from the process of being transforms into his likeness and the persecution that come from being an enemy of the world. My feelings want no part of any of that.

  93. Without debating endless particulars, it’s well understood that YEC begins with a sacred text because there is very good reason to believe it has the goods with regard to truth; and by necessity, more so than historical inferences and assumptions of uniformitarianism.

    Understood, but see here’s the problem with that YEC position: you can’t start with your own preconceptions and try to fit the evidence to it. Or, if you do, that isn’t science. YEC isn’t even testable because any evidence against that position can be easily waved away by ad hoc explanations. It’s not science.

  94. 94

    Timaeus @87

    I also see your point. However I don’t believe internally driven teleology really exists in the Aristotelian sense. If it does, it’s only in the form of natural laws sustained by God, and I have a hard time calling that “internal.” Aristotle was trying to explain things that we now have a much better explanation for, not unlike many other areas of science upon which he commented.

    In the end, I don’t think intelligent design theory is really about internally driven teleology, especially if all that means is natural laws. Dembski would call that “necessity.” I think Dembski would agree with me if pressed on that point. He is only trying to keep ID a big tent.

  95. –”tragic mishap: “Yes, but the key here is “without error.” When I look at two sources of knowledge which ought to be compatible and see that they are not, that is a problem.”

    In all honesty, I don’t understand the problem that you are having. Of course, science badly done or science that yields false conclusions is incompatible with the Bible, just as science well done or science that leads to true conclusions is compatible with the Bible.

    Let’s look at a specific example: Scientific conclusion: Certain patterns in nature indicate the presence of a designer. That is a true statement. Biblical truth: An infinite, powerful God created the universe. Those two truthful affirmations are compatible. Anyone who learns about those two truths can believe both points without any intellectual conflict–each is compatible with the other.

    At this point, I need to ask a pertinent question: Do you believe that faith and reason are compatible? If not, what is the role of reason?

  96. 96
    material.infantacy

    “YEC isn’t even testable because any evidence against that position can be easily waved away by ad hoc explanations. It’s not science.”

    I don’t think YEC is uniquely vulnerable to ad hoc explanations; and I would say that if it can make falsifiable predictions within its own model, there’s no reason to to label it as unscientific. I realize that this is very contentious, and I’m not looking to launch a world view war; but Darwinian evolution in its modern form looks to wave away all sorts of observations with ad hoc explanations. It has no verifiable mechanism; and not only does it make metaphysical assumptions, but arguments made in its favor are often theological. I can’t see faulting YEC for its preconceptions when all of modern science is now purportedly resting upon a foundation which proclaims that natural processes are the only valid causes of material effects. This is simply absurd, when we can see intelligence performing a unique category of causal effects; and science can’t seem to judge as to whether these effects are natural causes or not.

    Best,
    m.i.

  97. 97
    material.infantacy

    “these effects are natural causes or not.” -> should probably be something like -> “these effects have natural causes or not.”

  98. tragic @94:

    Have you read Michael Denton’s book, *Nature’s Destiny*? There’s an example of internal teleology. It’s not what Aristotle meant — Aristotle dealt only with the telos of individual beings or substances. But it’s still teleological — the entire evolutionary process is effectively the running of a cosmic computer program designed to produce man. And while God is the programmer, he doesn’t manipulate anything to make it happen. There is no external interference in the process once the program starts running (at the Big Bang).

    I consider Denton an ID theorist. And he still hangs out with the ID theorists — he was at one of their conferences in Italy last year.

    I am sure that Bill Dembski doesn’t think that Denton’s account tells us what actually *happened* in earth’s past, but I don’t think he would deny that Denton is an ID theorist. For Denton the whole process of evolution is intelligently designed. It doesn’t depend on randomness, and it isn’t driven by blind necessity. It’s set up by an intelligent mind which established the initial conditions so that all the subsequent events (at least, all the major ones — there is room for trivial variations) would occur as planned.

    The only Discovery fellow who is theoretically close to Denton is Michael Behe, who praised Denton’s book and doesn’t rule out such a scenario. But if you look outside Discovery, to places like UD and Telic Thoughts and elsewhere, you will find that many of the minor players in the ID movement are sympathetic to Denton. I don’t remember clearly enough to say for sure, but it seems to me that Dave Scot, former moderator here, supported a “front-loaded” scheme something like Denton’s. In sum, this sort of internal teleology, the teleology of a self-unfolding universe, is clearly within the realm of ID theorizing, even if it doesn’t have big support among the Discovery folks.

    Interestingly, Denton is *not* popular among TEs. You would think he would be, as he goes along with them completely on (a) macroevolution and (b) exclusively natural causes. I can’t account for their almost complete lack of interest in the man’s thought, unless the objection is theological. And I suspect that is it. For Denton, the outcome of the process is, at least in broad outlines, inevitable. And the TEs, especially the BioLogos folk, don’t like fixed outcomes. They want a God who gives nature its “freedom” — whatever that means. Asked if God steered, guided, or otherwise determined the evolutionary process, they answer obscurely, or not at all. The idea of a God who is completely Sovereign scares them all to death. An odd reaction for Christians, to be sure. Best wishes.

  99. StephenB,

    Would you please respond to my post @55?

    I answered a previous post of yours and I have some specific questions that I would like to dialog about.

    Thanks.

    tjj

  100. Flannery @89

    …whereas the evidence at least backs the currency of OEC now in hand.

    Yes, there is evidence for the OEC point of view provided you use your Christian uniformitarian framework to interpret the scientific observations.(I’m sure there is also evidence outside of that as well…) But this entails rejecting the biblical record of a global flood, the order of creation, the effects of the fall on the universe, Jesus’ words that Adam and Eve were created at the beginning of creation, etc. This is where the biblical record can help inform how we should interpret the scientific observations that we have. YEC doesn’t have all the answers either, but using a Scriptural framework of interpretation, at least some of the evidence for long ages disappears.

    So while you put the emphasis on the scientific observations interpreted using uniformitarian assumptions, we put the emphasis on the biblical record interpreted in a literal sense that uses the normal plain reading & meaning of the words and has been the overwhelmingly majority view of Christians and Jews throughout history until uniformitarianism hit the scene.

    We use fundamentally different lenses to interpret the things we observe in nature.

  101. To Jon Garvey @82

    It’s certainly a tough question: “Is the universally acknowledged illusion of design a scientific illusion or only a philosophical or psychological one?”

    Jon, isn’t this a loaded question? Isn’t the whole question whether the design is real or just an illusion?
    Wouldn’t a better question be “Is universally prevalent design that we see wherever we look an illusion or is it real?

    I certainly do not think that it is universally acknowledged that the design that we see all around us is universally acknowledged to be nothing more than an illusion.

    Presumably not a scientific one, because science can see through it to the unguided mechanism beneath.

    Nor do I agree with your conclusion that scientifically speaking the design is simply an illusion of design.

    “Science” (meaning evolutionary science) does not have it all figured out. Given the fact that they are prevented from positing an intelligent cause for the undeniable design they see all around them, sure universally, they claim it was all produced naturally, but that is what ID and creationism challenges.

    Biologos may think there is no evidence of God’s handiwork in the natural world, but that is not a biblical view. The Bible is clear that God’s hand is visible and that as a result all men are without excuse. God reveals Himself to us through natural revelation – not in a way that we cannot detect Him, but quite the opposite – in a way that we can detect Him.

    1The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
    2 Day to day pours out speech,
    and night to night reveals knowledge.
    3 There is no speech, nor are there words,
    whose voice is not heard.
    4 Their voice goes out through all the earth,
    and their words to the end of the world.
    Psalm 19:1-4

    The Bible teaches that God is worthy to be praised for His creative works. But how can we praise Him if we can’t even see His fingerprints in His creation? Doesn’t it make sense that if the world was made with His power and wisdom that there would be evidence of this? Isn’t that why the Bible says that people who deny God’s existence are without excuse?

    BioLogos wants to steal the glory of the Creator, to hide it so to speak, and say that we can’t really see His hand in nature. This is clearly against the whole tenor of Scripture from the beginning to the end. They would have us believe that science can give no evidence whatsoever for the Creator, but we disagree with that.

    Sure, science as defined by them, maybe. Historical science that uses their uniformitarian framework to interpret the observations, science that disallows any role for intelligence a priori, but not true science.

    In the past, the great Christian scientists sought to find God’s design in nature and they were excellent scientists!

    Lord Kelvin said this: “If you think strongly enough you will be forced by science to the belief in God, which is the foundation of all religion. You will find science not antagonistic but helpful to religion.” Johann Kepler, stated, as he was involved in his research, that he was merely thinking God’s thoughts after Him.

    Now however, these great scientists would not even be able to get a job at a secular university because of their worldview and approach to science! Their approach is outlawed and I doubt Biologos folks would even consider them to be true scientists.

    Kind of ironic, isn’t it? The idea that we could find God’s design in nature spurred science on in the West and led to many great discoveries, many by YEC scientists, but now, we are turning our back on that idea and claiming that design is only illusional and that God cannot be discovered through science.

    It just doesn’t sit right with me. History seems to indicate the opposite.

  102. tjguy:

    Sorry, but time is becoming an issue, so I can only respond in an abbreviated way.

    With respect to our recent interchange, much turns on our premises. You seem to believe that all truth is found in the bible. Further, you think that a day in Genesis is 24 hours, the chronology of the Creation account is inviolate, and uniformatarianism is a fraud. You may be right about all of these things, and I may be wrong in doubting them. Or perhaps it is the other way around. Beyond that, what else is there to say about historical cosmology. Like you say, we were not there. Why spend hours debating assumptions?

    I am with you on the problem of methodological naturalism, but I don’t think the answer is to compare data with Scriptural teaching. To me the solution is to simply open up science to study any possible cause.

    Do our attitudes about Scripture influence science? Only if we consult Scripture for input? If we do that, then we would have to face the question of how much weight to give the Scriptural passage and how much weight to give the empirical evidence. That doesn’t sound very rigorous to me.

    My attitude is simple. Whenever my personal interpretation of the Bible conflicts with my scientific speculations, I go with the Bible every time. However, when my personal interpretation conflicts with something I know to be a slam dunk fact, I re-evaluate my biblical interpretation, knowing that I made a mistake in reading it. How do I know that? I know it because the Bible will never contravene a fact, therefore, if it appears to, I am misreading it. How do I know that the Bible will never contravene a fact? Because the Bible is inerrant.

    What kind of check and balance system to you use to guard yourself against those kinds of errors. What about the law of non-contradiction or the rule of sufficient reason. They are not found in the Bible. Do you, nevertheless, accept them, or do you discount them because they are not found in Scripture?

    You write,

    –”Nature can tell us of God’s existence, His greatness, power, creativity, and wisdom, but that’s about it.”

    That’s a lot. You have just eliminated atheism and agnosticism without any appeal to Scripture.

    –”So nature itself is not an accurate teacher about God. If we looked at only nature to understand God, we might think God didn’t communicate His truth to us very accurately.”

    You seem to think that I am equating natural revelation with Divine revelation. Since I am not doing that, I won’t try to deal with all your comments suggesting that I am. With respect to the scientific method, I can only repeat that science begins with observation, not faith. If you have another scientific method in mind, I have no objections. Perhaps you can develop something better than science, with my blessings.

    –”Do you think YECs do this with Scripture?” (misplacing metaphors as facts and general explanations as chronological accounts)

    Yes. I think that it is entirely possible that you may be doing it with Genesis.

  103. tjguy@104

    I was speaking with tongue firmly in cheek as a confused orthodox evolutionist. Re-read my post from that perspective to see how well I unconfuse myself.

  104. StephenB, I appreciate your time in dialoguing with me. No problem if you don’t respond for a week or two. Anyway, thank you for taking time to discuss this with me. I have interacted with your response below, but perhaps you are not interested in continuing the dialog any further I don’t know. Wouldn’t be the first time that has happened to me on this topic on this board.

    It seems like whenever I bring up the flood, the dialog stops. So, if you only answer one more question, I would love to hear how you can say that Scripture is a higher order of knowledge than science and yet allow “science” to force you to believe in a local flood.(I took the liberty of assuming you are consistent in your OEC views and so do not believe in a worldwide flood.)

    If I am right, I would love to know your reasoning for interpreting the flood passages of the Bible as a local flood.

    If however, you believe in a global flood, don’t you think that historical fact would have / should have a big impact on how we interpret the geological record?

    Even if you believe in a local flood, can you see how important it would be for a scientist who takes the Scripture at face value to allow that fact to inform his interpretation of the geological record?

    This is true for cosmology, biology, anthropology, archeology, geology, paleontology, etc. because the Bible touches on all of these sciences.

    You seem to believe that all truth is found in the bible.

    No, but I do believe the Bible is true and more dependable than other sources of truth.

    Further, you think that a day in Genesis is 24 hours, the chronology of the Creation account is inviolate, and uniformatarianism is a fraud. You may be right about all of these things, and I may be wrong in doubting them. Or perhaps it is the other way around. Beyond that, what else is there to say about historical cosmology. Like you say, we were not there. Why spend hours debating assumptions?

    Well, what gives you the idea that the author is trying to communicate something different than a 24 hour day? What textual reasons you have for that view?

    And, on what Scriptural basis do you reject the order of creation listed in Genesis?

    How can uniformitarianism be correct if a global flood took place that would have played havoc with the geology of the earth? Is God’s Word dependable or do we have to bow to science and twist and tweak and twirk until we can find some way, no matter how unnatural it may seem, to read a local flood into the flood passages of the Bible?

    You say that faith/revelation is always superior to reason – that faith informs reason. So how does revelation inform reason in Genesis 1? Since we were not there, isn’t the safest thing to take the Creator at his word rather than the conclusions of scientists interpreting the facts through a uniformitarian naturalistic framework that cannot be proven?

    I am with you on the problem of methodological naturalism, but I don’t think the answer is to compare data with Scriptural teaching. To me the solution is to simply open up science to study any possible cause.

    Then you would propose to ignore the global flood when doing geology? And, in spite of ignoring the flood, you think your naturalistic uniformitarian interpretations of the geological record would be accurate?

    Do our attitudes about Scripture influence science? Only if we consult Scripture for input? If we do that, then we would have to face the question of how much weight to give the Scriptural passage and how much weight to give the empirical evidence. That doesn’t sound very rigorous to me.

    How can you get an accurate interpretation of the geological record or of the fossils if you don’t do that?

    My attitude is simple. Whenever my personal interpretation of the Bible conflicts with my scientific speculations, I go with the Bible every time. However, when my personal interpretation conflicts with something I know to be a slam dunk fact, I re-evaluate my biblical interpretation, knowing that I made a mistake in reading it.

    So you are saying that people for thousands of years have been mislead by God – that God inspired the text in a way that He knew would mislead people for thousands of years?

    I guess I would like to know how you know the age of the earth to be a slam dunk fact when it seems that the Scripture teaches something different, when it seems that Jesus taught something different, and when the Bible clearly says in Ex. 20 that God created in 6 24 hour days.

    So, in the end, you do not allow Scripture to inform your reason when you feel your reason is validated by science.

    How do I know that? I know it because the Bible will never contravene a fact, therefore, if it appears to, I am misreading it. How do I know that the Bible will never contravene a fact? Because the Bible is inerrant.

    Agreed, but you are saying it is only inerrant in regard to matters science has not made clear. But we all know science is not inerrant.

    What kind of check and balance system to you use to guard yourself against those kinds of errors. What about the law of non-contradiction or the rule of sufficient reason. They are not found in the Bible. Do you, nevertheless, accept them, or do you discount them because they are not found in Scripture?

    Good questions! The law of non-contradiction is a logical deduction from the character of God Himself, as are all the laws of logic. I don’t think I would subscribe to the “rule of sufficient reason” if it means contradicting God’s Word, but for other issues, yes, I would have no problem with that. It is the best we can do in those situations.

    How do I guard against errors? By using good principles of interpretation – what the original author intended to say, what other sections of Scripture say about it, how the early Church understood it, etc. It is not foolproof, but not to take Genesis 1-11 as literal history just requires too many unnatural interpretations for me. It requires too much reinterpretation of other Scriptures that touch on Genesis. It requires that one believe God presented His Word in such a way that deceived people for thousands of years. Besides, we’re not talking total blind faith here. There is evidence for a young earth if you have eyes to see it, but it is not the evidence that convinces me the most, but the clear record of God’s Word.

    When God has given us hints, when God has given us a record of history to help us make proper interpretation of our observations, I believe we should trust His Word even if the interpretations of historical science using a uniformiatarian framework does not back it up.

    Remember, God has clearly told us in Scripture that things have not always continued the same from the beginning.

    Have you ever read II Peter 3:3-7?

    “knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? FOR EVER SINCE THE FATHERS FELL ASLEEP, ALL THINGS ARE CONTINUING AS THEY WERE FROM THE BEGINNING OF CREATION.” 5 FOR THEY DELIBERATELY OVERLOOK THIS FACT, THAT THE HEAVENS EXISTED LONG AGO, AND THE EARTH WAS FORMED OUT OF WATER AND THROUGH WATER BY THE WORD OF GOD 6AND THAT BY MEANS OF THESE THE WORLD THAT THEN EXISTED WAS DELUGED WITH WATER AND PERISHED. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.”

    The scoffers claim that all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation(sounds like uniformitarianism to me) but Peter says “No. You are deliberately forgetting this fact.” He calls it a fact! The fact of God’s creation of the heavens and the earth out of water and the fact of the flood that destroyed the whole world.

    –”So nature itself is not an accurate teacher about God. If we looked at only nature to understand God, we might think God didn’t communicate His truth to us very accurately.”

    You seem to think that I am equating natural revelation with Divine revelation. Since I am not doing that, I won’t try to deal with all your comments suggesting that I am. With respect to the scientific method, I can only repeat that science begins with observation, not faith. If you have another scientific method in mind, I have no objections. Perhaps you can develop something better than science, with my blessings.

    Yes, I understand that science done from the YEC perspective does not count as science any more. It used to, but no more.

    I’m glad you are not equating natural revelation with Divine revelation. I was mainly trying to point out that if we don’t take God at His Word when He says that He created the world perfect in the beginning and then later death, disease, and suffering entered it because of the curse, then we would have a tendency to misunderstand God because we would be forced to conclude that these things were a part of His original creation and a part of His method of creation. He would be directly responsible for them and that would reflect negatively on Him.

    So if you believe that divine revelation is superior to natural revelation, then I assume you would believe in the global flood. But if you reject/ignore the global flood when you do geology, how is it that you can really say that Divine revelation is superior to natural revelation?

    Yes, science begins with observation, but Stephen, then you have to interpret those observations. What framework do you use to interpret your observations? Uniformitarian naturalistic assumptions that cannot be verified or the inerrant written historical record of God’s Word?

    When it is something that occurred in the past that you cannot observe, obviously we are limited as to what we can really “know”. That is why the Bible’s record of history is so helpful and important even for scientists if we are really in search of the truth.

    –”Do you think YECs do this with Scripture?” (misplacing metaphors as facts and general explanations as chronological accounts)

    Yes. I think that it is entirely possible that you may be doing it with Genesis.

    In post 55, you gave some examples of when we should not use a literal interpretation and I said that I agreed with each one of your examples. Now you say that I am misplacing metaphors as facts and taking general explanations as chronological accounts in Genesis 1.

    I’m just curious but what metaphors do you think we are interpreting as facts in Genesis 1?

    Do you think that Genesis one is NOT a chronological account of creation – if so, why? (Since God Himself numbered the days as 1 through 7, it is hard to understand how we could be wrong in reading that as a chronological account.) This is where it seems that you are taking science and using it to correct God’s Word.

    You also said “Scripture is a higher order of knowledge than science, but it can illuminate science only if the standards for sound interpretation are utilized.”

    What are the standards for sound interpretation that you are using to come up with an allegorical approach to Genesis 1? What is it about the text that leads you to this conclusion?

    You also said the “literal” method of interpretation takes into account what the original author meant to communicate. I wholeheartedly agree.

    Do you really think Moses did not mean for people to take chapter one as a chronological account? What basis do you have for saying that outside of what modern day evolutionary science tells us?

    If you can show me that God’s Word teaches an old earth using sound methods of biblical interpretation, then I’m all ears. I would be happy to believe that, but until I can be convinced from God’s Word, I prefer to trust God who saw what happened as opposed to the naturalistic interpretations of history by modern day scientists who did not see what happened.

  105. 105

    Stephen @95:

    Do you believe that faith and reason are compatible? If not, what is the role of reason?

    See 90. Or you could read chapter 19 of my book: http://www.amazon.com/A-Mishma.....038;sr=1-1

    Timaeus @98:

    I have not read Nature’s Destiny, though I have read Evolution. Shame on anyone here who hasn’t.

    But it’s still teleological — the entire evolutionary process is effectively the running of a cosmic computer program designed to produce man. And while God is the programmer, he doesn’t manipulate anything to make it happen.

    I prefer to view programs as chains of efficient causes and effects rather than “teleology,” and any purpose or direction to the program is not actually in the program. Instead it is in the mind of the programmer. The program is only doing what it was designed to do. It has no internal purpose other than proceeding from its initial position, which was manipulated, according to necessity, also manipulated.

    In this way the whole distinction between internal and external teleology falls apart. It is no distinction at all. Why should we call a program a thing and insist that anything inside it is internal when we can at least theoretically break it down completely into a chain of cause and effect? Anything internal then would have to be internal only to subatomic particles, or energy, or whatever, all of which we today view as following externally imposed laws of nature. If we don’t mean Aristotelian teleology than there really isn’t any internal teleology. Denton and Behe can believe what they want, but I don’t think internal or Aristotelian teleology is coherent.

  106. tragic @ 105:

    We are not disagreeing about the basic facts here; we are disagreeing over vocabulary and emphasis.

    Regarding the computer program, it doesn’t matter where the design “resides” — in the computer or in the mind of the programmer. That’s a metaphysical question that has no practical answer. Does the “design” for the oak tree “reside” in the acorn? Or only in the mind of the God who created the acorn? It could be either; it could be both. We can let philosophers argue about that. The practical point is that once the process is started, then, barring some physical accident which interrupts it, or barring direct miraculous intervention by God, nothing in the universe can stop it. It is self-unfolding. It isn’t steered by any little nudges or interventions. The program, unassisted by any additional input from the programmer, will give you pi to 500 decimal places; the acorn, unassisted by the direct finger of God, will become the oak; and in Denton’s scheme the Big Bang, unassisted by any later special divine actions, will produce man.

    If you don’t wish to speak of such processes as having an “internal teleology,” that is fine. Say that they are “automated” or that they are “self-unfolding”; use whatever words you like. The point is that, whatever you call the process, the end or goal of the process is achieved as a necessary, logical result of the initial conditions, and requires no external input after t=0.

    I took you to be saying, in your earlier post, that the notion of ID *necessarily* involves God pushing particles (atoms, genes, etc.) around. In other words, that it *necessarily* involves “intervention” or “miracles” or “tinkering” or whatever else one may want to call it. I gave you Denton as a counter-example — an ID theorist who denies that any intervention is required after t=0. And Denton has many admirers in the ID world.

    If you are saying: “I think Denton is wrong, and Dembski is right; I think that programmed evolution would never work, and that therefore intervention would be necessary” — that’s fine. But you were not merely expressing an opinion about what was scientifically possible; you were insisting on a particular definition of ID. It was that definition that I was challenging. It doesn’t represent ID as the ID proponents themselves — when they speak collectively rather than as individuals — represent it. Look on the Discovery website. All the formal definitions of ID you will find there speak of “intelligent cause”; none of them make “intervention” a requirement.

    Now, I want to address your broader philosophical point, as made in your last paragraph.

    We can imagine “design within an evolutionary context” being delivered in two broad ways:

    1. A non-teleological process, such as the Darwinian, might be allowed to stumble along mostly on its own, with occasional miracles/interventions/insertions of new information supplementing it, keeping it on course for God’s desired ends, etc.

    2. A teleological (or if you want to cavil over the term, substitute “automated” or “self-unfolding”) process, such as Denton proposes, might be initiated, without God laying a finger on it once it starts.

    If you say, both of these possibilities are really just one possibility, because God is still manipulating things in both cases, but in the second one he does the physical manipulating all at the beginning of the universe, whereas in the first he spreads the manipulation over time — I agree that one can look at it that way. But even if one does look at it that way, it doesn’t invalidate the distinction between “interventionist” and “non-interventionist” delivery schemes. The latter never violate “natural laws” once the process starts, and the former do. That’s a real difference, even if it’s not a difference that you think is very important. In fact it’s a difference that’s very important for ID, because it allows ID to bluntly deny all “God of the Gaps” charges. ID is compatible with *no gaps in natural causation at all from the moment of the Big Bang to the emergence of man*. The TEs and the New Atheists are thus disarmed of one of their biggest “killer” arguments against ID.

  107. –tjguy: “It seems like whenever I bring up the flood, the dialog stops.”

    I don’t appreciate the insinuation, since don’t run away from any topic. If Scripture says the flood was world-wide, and if it closes the door on the possibility of a local flood, then I accept the teaching as is. If geologists are unwilling to consider that hypothesis, then that is their error.

    However, I have a question for you: Jesus says that the “Father causes the sun to rise…” Why do you not accept his teaching and choose to follow scientists who say that the earth revolves around the sun?

  108. —tjguy: “If you can show me that God’s Word teaches an old earth using sound methods of biblical interpretation, then I’m all ears. I would be happy to believe that, but until I can be convinced from God’s Word, I prefer to trust God who saw what happened as opposed to the naturalistic interpretations of history by modern day scientists who did not see what happened.”

    You would have to be open to the fact that the Bible contains many genres, including poetry, allegory, argument, and. get this, incomplete history. I don’t think you are open to that fact. Yes, much of the Old Testament is historical, as are the Gospels in the New Testament, but some of it is not. You are assuming, I gather, that only one Biblical genre exists, namely the historical and you interpret everything in that context.

    So we are back to what I think the author had in mind. Genesis is arguing for an ex-nilio (out of nothing) origin of the universe and a transcendent (as opposed to immanent) God. In keeping with that point, it describes the relationship between God and man (creator, creature), teaching that the universe was made for man and the glory of God, providing the proper theological orientation by which man may save his soul. How much time was involved in the process is a far less important point and you can’t expect the author, who had one intention, namely an argument supplemented by an incomplete historical account, to provide a time-table description that would be reminiscent of another kind of intention.

    What do you think the author had in mind and what were his priorities? Please be specific as I was specific.

  109. 1. A non-teleological process, such as the Darwinian, might be allowed to stumble along mostly on its own, with occasional miracles/interventions/insertions of new information supplementing it, keeping it on course for God’s desired ends, etc.

    GRR… NON-TELEOLOGICAL PROCESS is an OXYMORON.

    But then, you probably already know that.

  110. –”GRR… NON-TELEOLOGICAL PROCESS is an OXYMORON.”

    I think a good philosophical case can be made for that point.

  111. So either erosion is teleological or it isn’t a process…

  112. 112

    Timaeus,

    All agreed except for one minor thing. I’m not objecting to the distinction between “teleological” and “non-teleological.” I’m objecting to the distinction between “external teleology” and “internal teleology.” I don’t think internal teleology exists.

    The point is that, whatever you call the process, the end or goal of the process is achieved as a necessary, logical result of the initial conditions, and requires no external input after t=0.

    It most certainly requires external input: the influence of all natural law (necessity). The initial conditions are also imposed externally. There is nothing in the particles, or whatever is the most basic unit of matter/energy, that constitutes necessity other than those two things which are externally imposed. They may be a certain kind of thing, which necessitates how the natural laws treat them, but whatever properties they have internally are not necessary or sufficient for teleological design.

  113. Mung:

    I think the word “process,” through frequently implying an end (industrial processes, embryonic process, etc.), can still be used in a looser and more general way, to mean “sequence of events.” But if you object to such usage, then tell me what we should call the sequence: random mutation, natural selection, another random mutation, more natural selection, etc. Presumably you would not call it the Darwinian “process,” since it’s not end-directed. So what is it? The Darwinian “meander”? The Darwinian “blind walk”? Or, less prejudicially, how about the Darwinian “schtick”? Or perhaps, the Darwinian “shuffle”? (“Doin’ the Dar-win shuffle [nyuk nyuk nyuk nyuk!]“) … Let me know.

  114. 114

    Their internal properties may be necessary for certain types of design. For instance, in order for our particular kind of biological life to be designed carbon may need to be tetrahedral (this is just a poor example, carbon is tetrahedral because by necessity), but these types of properties are not necessary in theory for design.

    Or maybe at least one property is required: that matter be separable into discrete units. If it was uniform it’s hard to see how it could carry information.

  115. tragic mishap (112):

    The action of natural laws is not “external input” in the sense of “input from beyond nature.” And that was the kind of input you implied in the original comment that I objected to, that led to this long discussion. You said:

    “Intelligent design counts as efficient cause if the designer “moves the particles,” which is exactly what IDists are arguing.”

    But in Denton’s scenario the designer (who is beyond nature, not part of it) doesn’t lift a finger to “move the particles.” The designer establishes the natural laws, and presumably creates the original mass that underwent the Big Bang. After that, the only thing that “moves the particles” is the laws of nature, which in Denton’s scenario are part and parcel of the cosmic computer program whose output is man. You wouldn’t say that the computer programmer steps inside the computer and manipulates all the 0′s and 1′s, would you? (He’s lying on the beach, while his program does all the manipulating.) So why would you say that the designer moves the particles? (He’s off contemplating the eternal Ideas, while natural laws are doing all the manipulating.)

    I would agree with you that Dembski, Meyer, Wells, Nelson and others all insist that God “moves the particles”. Even Behe may privately believe (though he has never made it part of the definition of ID, and to my knowledge has never explicitly argued it in his books or articles) that God has done a bit of “moving the particles.” But the case of Denton proves that “IDists” is too general. And probably — though it’s not certain — Sternberg would fall in with Denton on this point. And Dave Scot. And others who have posted here and at Telic Thoughts.

    God doesn’t have to move any particles for ID to be true — unless you count producing the initial arrangement of the particles — which are brought into being out of nothing — as “moving” them. But is bringing something into being out of nothing a “movement”? Where did the particle “move” from, when it wasn’t in a previous “position,” since it didn’t yet exist? So the suggestion that God “moved” any particles at the beginning, even to establish their arrangement, is debatable. It is more economical to suppose that that they came into being *in* their initial arrangement, with no “movement,” in the normal sense, at all.

    Be that as it may, I was merely trying to make sure that other readers did not infer from your words that “ID requires intervention” — which is the most natural sense that your expression (about the designer moving particles) will bear for the casual reader, even if you did not intend to convey that meaning.

    I think we have pretty well covered all the idea-content here, so I will exit. You can speak again, but I don’t guarantee a reply. (But hey, the “Providential” God of BioLogos doesn’t even guarantee the evolution of man, so I’m in good company.)

  116. So either erosion is teleological or it isn’t a process…

    Absolutely.

    Science is all about repeating processes. Science is inherently about teleology.

    In what sense is a non-repeatable process a process?

    In what sense is the study of non-repeatable events science?

  117. I’m objecting to the distinction between “external teleology” and “internal teleology.” I don’t think internal teleology exists.

    Implying that you do think “external teleology” exists?

    The acts that you engage in, internal or external teleology?

    Who or what is pulling your strings?

  118. Timaeus: But if you object to such usage, then tell me what we should call the sequence: random mutation, natural selection, another random mutation, more natural selection, etc. Presumably you would not call it the Darwinian “process,” since it’s not end-directed.

    Sounds like a process to me. Also sounds Darwinian. Also sounds end-directed.

    Did Darwin deny his “process” was teleological?

    Or did that come later?

  119. Mung:

    116: From what scholarly works on the history and philosophy of science have you derived the equation of “repeating processes” and “teleology”?

    It’s ludicrous to say that erosion is teleological. If an aimless mechanical phenomenon such as erosion is teleological, then all natural processes must be teleological; but this is to rob “teleological” of all meaning. One must be able to distinguish between end-driven action, and non-end-driven action, or the notion of end-driven action is unintelligible.

    A tornado that wipes out a Kansas farm is not end-driven; erosion is in the same category. Embryonic development, on the other hand, is end-driven. Any discussion of the nature of science that can’t get such basic distinctions clear will only serve to confuse people.

    118: What is end-directed about the evolutionary “process” I described? Nothing. Neither “mutation” nor “selection” is “aiming” at anything. Mutation is — in the neo-Darwinian view — without regard for future utility, and “selection” is simply a shorthand way of talking about a result (what survives, survives), which should not be personified as aiming to sculpt or shape or produce anything.

    As for what Darwin said, why don’t you read his writings and find out? I’ve read them extensively, and it’s clear he didn’t think the process was teleological, but I’m not going to research him again in order to be able to quote you chapter and verse, especially since I think you are probably using the word “teleological” in an idiosyncratic way, so that my quotations wouldn’t prove anything to you.

    Darwin’s view was the same as that of Dawkins; there is no real design in the production of new species, but variation and natural selection together produce a very effective substitute for design. In other words, there is no teleology in nature, but it looks as if there is. The job of the evolutionary biologist — for both Darwin and Dawkins — is to disabuse the common person of his illusions on this front.

    Thus, the anti-teleology is no later add-on; it’s at the heart of the argument of The Origin of Species. And it runs through The Descent of Man. This is what creates the problem in discussions of evolution and divine purpose. This is why BioLogos is being hammered for clarity on this question.

  120. Ted Davis wrote: “IMO, the main distinction between ID and TE appears to be exactly this: whether or not design arguments (which I and many other TEs will make) are ‘scientific’.”

    That is the ‘demarcation game’ approach, made for compartmentalisation of knowledge or division of labour strategies. It returns to a question I put to Ted in another thread: is history (Ted’s home field) a ‘science’? Is he attempting to ‘make history (look) scientific’ by combining ‘history’ + ‘science’ into the term ‘historical sciences’? This is a philosophical approach to science (and history) to speak of ‘historical sciences.’

    Ted seems to agree with Stephen Meyer re: uplifting the term ‘historical sciences,’ perhaps or even mainly against YEC’s who often reject the term ‘historical sciences.’

    What’s the difference then between ‘historical sciences’ and ‘science(s) of history’ in Ted’s perspective?

    One could rephrase Ted’s opinion like this: “IMO, the main distinction between ID and TE appears to be exactly this: whether or not design arguments are ‘historical’.” They occur in history, of course. But do ‘design arguments’ deal with history (*when* was the design-designed) or not?

    As for me, arguing that the ‘field’ called ‘origins of life’ is a(n) ‘historical science’ is patently absurb. However, ‘historical sciences’ is a key term in Meyer’s post-modern western call for ‘scientific revolution,’ i.e. as Timaeus says in this thread, which means “changing the definition of science,” since “all social choices [to define 'science'] are revisable.”

  121. 121

    The action of natural laws is not “external input” in the sense of “input from beyond nature.”

    Yes that’s exactly what I’m saying. Natural laws are input from beyond nature. How could they not be? They are completely immaterial, mental phenomena. They have no material existence, only material effects. I believe they are sustained and enforced by God, who, being eternal, really only had to produce them “once” in his own timeless timeframe for them to be made law for the entire timeline. So He can lie on the beach if He wants, but He still created and sustains natural laws once for all time.

    Even if they are not from beyond nature, they cannot be considered “internal” for any one thing since they are universal and apply to everything.

    The designer establishes the natural laws, and presumably creates the original mass that underwent the Big Bang.

    As a YEC, that’s exactly what I believe, given the creationist version of the Big Bang. This view is not Aristotelian, or internal, teleology. If that’s what Denton thinks then he is wrong.

    God doesn’t have to move any particles for ID to be true — unless you count producing the initial arrangement of the particles — which are brought into being out of nothing — as “moving” them.

    I do count that as “moving” them, though that particular word may not suffice to convey my meaning, as you pointed out. In my book I don’t use the word “move.” I use the phrase “specify starting position.” From there I make a further distinction between initial starting position, the location of particles at the moment of their creation ex nihilo by God, and local starting position, which would include divine intervention or human intervention. The word “move” would apply only to the specification of local starting position, so I probably should have stuck to the terminology I used in my book.

    Dembski’s explanatory filter would at least produce a false negative for anything acting according to necessity alone (as would specified complexity since the probability of necessity does not meet the complexity criterion), so with the correct terminology I would disagree that “God doesn’t have to [specify starting position] for ID to be true.” Yes, He does have to specify starting position in order for Dembski’s two methods to detect His action. And ID is fundamentally about rigorous detection methods.

  122. 122

    Mung @117

    Implying that you do think “external teleology” exists?

    The acts that you engage in, internal or external teleology?

    Who or what is pulling your strings?

    When I say “external” I mean external to the physical world, or as Timaeus put it, input from beyond nature. I am a substance dualist. So my spirit/will which exists in the spiritual world is pulling the strings of my body, which exists in the physical world, by specifying the local starting position of various particles in my brain.

  123. Science is all about repeating processes.

    Erosion is repeatable but is it teleological?

  124. –Timaeus: “A non-teleological process, such as the Darwinian, might be allowed to stumble along mostly on its own, with occasional miracles/interventions/insertions of new information supplementing it, keeping it on course for God’s desired ends, etc.”

    In that case, would God be guiding an unguided process?

    Do God’s occasional interventions make a non-teleological process a teleological process to the extent that He is injecting teleological elements into non-teleological process at intervals, or does it remain a non-teleological process even as God directs it toward an end, which would seem to be the definition of a teleological process?

    What happened to the TE argument that an efficient and omnipotent is above tinkering, which is one of the main reason’s non-teleology was introduced in the first place?

  125. “efficient and omnipotent” [God] is alleged to be above tinkering.

  126. tragic mishap (121):

    Our whole conversation has been conducted under a misunderstanding. I did not know that you were a YEC. I have been interpreting your statements as if you were a confirmed believer in macroevolution, the Big Bang, etc. But as a YEC you cannot possibly believe in macroevolution or the Big Bang (not the Big Bang as it is generally understood by modern astrophysicists, anyway). Thus I’ve been confused a number of times by argumentative moves you have made.

    It would have helped if right from the beginning you had said: “I don’t believe in either macroevolution or the Big Bang, but just for the sake of argument …” or something of the kind.

    Even supposing that your discussion was just for the sake of argument, it is still confusing. You say above, for example, that God goes and lies on the beach, but is still “sustaining” the natural laws. But “sustaining” is an activity, and that means that God is doing more than lying on the beach. I think that is one of the theological objections of the TEs to Denton (though they never articulate it, since most of them haven’t read Denton, and won’t, even when he is pointed out to them). They would say (as they have said of Paley) that his model is too “Deistical” — endowing nature with its powers and then retiring. (Those aren’t his words, but his thought could be taken in that way.)

    Your language is confusing because you have God in continuous activity sustaining nature but also retiring (lying on the beach). You offer a muddy halfway house between “Deism” and TE, as far as divine action is concerned. All language about God is of course at best analogical, so I’m not going to demand Euclidean precision, but at the very least your images give a conflicting impression.

    Your point about natural laws coming from “beyond” nature is not relevant. Of course they come from “beyond” nature if they originally come from God. But *now* — in the present world — they are part and parcel of nature. That may not be your view, but it’s Denton’s. (It’s also the view of the overwhelming majority of Church Fathers, Scholastics, etc., that nature, once created, has powers of its own, granted to it by God, to be sure, but still properly its own. But as a YEC you may go by the Bible alone, and may not care a fig what the theological tradition has said.)

    You make the philosophical error of equating “nature” with “material existence.” This shows that your categories of thought are those of modern philosophy, rather than ancient/medieval/Renaissance philosophy. This is not unusual for YECs. Despite their perception of themselves as anti-modern, they are actually quite modern in their thinking. They oppose the Enlightenment, but they oppose it, so to speak, on the same playing field. I come from a different playing field. I think that most of modern thought — the playing field on which Ham clashes with Dawkins, etc. — is a massive error.

    You say that laws cannot be considered internal because they are universal. That does not follow. The rules of the game of Monopoly are universal — binding on *all* the players within the “universe” in which the game is played — but they are also completely internal, within the game. They aren’t found in the “Scrabble universe,” for example. And the fact that the rules are entirely “mental” — you have to pay so much for a house, so much for a hotel, must past Go to collect $200, etc., does not mean that they are not part of the game. The intangible rules are just as much a part of the game as the “physical” parts — the little houses and hotels and playing tokens that move around the board. And both the intangible rules and the pieces are “created” by the makers of Monopoly, who lies outside the game, but once the game starts, they are internalized within the game and their origin is irrelevant.

    Denton’s nature is like that. The computer “program” that produces man consists of both “physical” things — matter — and “mental” things — constants, natural laws. All of these things are created by God, and, once created, run by themselves, just as, if you build a computer, and then program it to calculate the value of pi to 500 decimal places, both the physical side of things (the working of the parts of the computer) and the “mental” side of things — the execution of the algorithm (an algorithm being a “mental” thing) carry on by themselves, even if the builder of the computer or inventor of the algorithm dies in the interim, or takes off to the beach and thinks about murder mysteries rather than pi.

    This is the conception Denton is offering. I am not asking you to agree with it. But I’ve read the book and you haven’t, and I’ve read it slowly and carefully. So I’m not going to take seriously any objections you have to my description of his conception, until you have read the book.

    Your use of the phrase “internal, or Aristotelian, teleology” suggests that you think that all versions of internal teleology must be Aristotelian. I have no idea where you are getting this idea, but you offer no grounds for it. I’m also unconvinced by your discussion overall that you have read very much Aristotle. Your knowledge of him appears to be mostly from hearsay. If you are going to keep discussing Aristotle, please point to particular texts and give me your detailed analysis of what you think he is saying in those texts. Don’t spare the Greek, either. I can follow it.

    You commit an act of academic dishonesty by changing my words “move any particles” to “specify starting position”. Even though you indicate the change by the use of square brackets, the overall result has me arguing what I did not argue. If this is typical of the way you argue in your book — and by the way, I have no idea what book you are talking about — I certainly won’t be reading it.

    I won’t get into the particulars of Dembski’s methods, because they are a technical matter which would require a whole new thread, discussing the math and the concepts in *No Free Lunch* and so on. But I’ll speak of ID more generally: ID doesn’t have to say anything about the initial position of created matter in order to detect design. I can *know* beyond a doubt that Mt. Rushmore was designed, even if I don’t have a clue what the mountain originally looked like, or where the atoms that make up the mountain originally were positioned in the Big Bang. That has absolutely nothing to do with how design detection works. Design detection is completely a-historical and requires no detailed knowledge of the previous states of the universe. It does require knowledge of natural laws, so that it can eliminate claims that mere necessity could have produced something. But it doesn’t require knowledge of the original position of the particles that made up the universe.

    Since you are a YEC, I would far rather hear you set forth your *own* position on how the universe, life, species and man came into being, than entertain, for the sake of argument, premises and scenarios that you don’t believe in. What is happening is that you start out granting other people’s premises for the sake of argument, but then, instead of analyzing them and extrapolating them to their logical conclusions — which could be constructive — you are sticking in theological judgments of your own about God, creation, etc., evaluations which don’t follow from the assumptions of the position you are discussing, and which aren’t grounded in any classical texts from the Christian tradition, but appear to spring from your own fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants metaphysical reasoning. I have time to listen to an able exposition of the YEC position, and I have time to listen to an able exegesis of texts of Calvin, Aquinas, Augustine, Aristotle, etc.; I don’t have time to listen to ad hoc theological improvisations which aren’t grounded in classical discussions of these subjects.

  127. “God directs it toward an end, which would seem to be the definition of a teleological process”

    That’s a ‘theological’ process, not a ‘teleological’ process. Let’s not handcuff a Theos with a telos! Conflation of these two terms, however, is not uncommon here at UD. Can there be ‘theological’ processes that are not ‘teleological’?

  128. –Gregory: That’s a ‘theological’ process, not a ‘teleological’ process. Let’s not handcuff a Theos with a telos! Conflation of these two terms, however, is not uncommon here at UD. Can there be ‘theological’ processes that are not ‘teleological’?

    TEs argue that God used a non-teleological, Darwinian process to produce Homo Sapiens–or haven’t you heard? They are the ones doing the conflating. Try to do a little analysis and refrain from meaningless, uniformed gotchas.

  129. StephenB (124):

    We’re not disagreeing. For God to tinker with the Darwinian process (Mung calls it a process even though it’s non-teleological, and thus violates his own definition of “process,” but leave the vocabulary aside) would be a compromise, a mixing of teleology and anti-teleology. And you are right, this mixture has always been unacceptable to BioLogos TEs. Well, not formally unacceptable, because now Falk is saying that he doesn’t want to dogmatize and that maybe God does act directly now and then. But that does not affect practice; in every strictly biological column that Falk and Venema and Applegate and Ussery and Alexander and others have ever written for the site, pure naturalism is taken for granted, and will continue to be taken for granted. It’s in the Darwinian’s blood to take it for granted.

    I was speaking hypothetically, about two ways that God might achieve his ends with perfect certainty. Hypothetically, *if* he created a “Darwinian universe,” he could still achieve any particular end he desired, with 100% certainty — *but only if he was willing to tinker*. He would have to, at some point, violate his own natural laws, in order to keep evolution from wandering off-course. That’s Option A. It’s clumsy and messy, but it gets the job done.

    Option B is classier, sleeker, shinier, more sophisticated, more subtle, more stylish. God sets up the initial parameters of the universe such that man (along with all other species that are essential to his plan) has to evolve. God now no longer has to intervene; he has guaranteed the results from the initial setup.

    Note that the BioLogos people — certainly all the life scientists there, anyway — absolutely despise Option A, because of their commitment to naturalism. Note also that they are cold to B, even though it meets their naturalistic requirements, apparently because it reminds them of Calvinist predestinarianism and thus makes their Arminian souls quiver in fear. (They are committing a logical error in making the link, since God could exercise absolute and deterministic power over sub-human nature while leaving the human will free, but logic has never been their strong point.)

    Now there may be more than these two options (God tinkers, or God preprograms) that are compatible with the Providence that BioLogos frequently talks so loudly about. But if there are other options, I don’t know what they are. In the four years of its existence, BioLogos has never answered any direct question about what such options might be.

    So again, we are not disagreeing. My position is what it has always been: BioLogos is theologically confused, and philosophically illogical, and (except for Ted Davis and guest columnists like Mark Noll) historically uninformed about what the Christian tradition teaches. Maybe this will change; maybe Ted Davis and some other new blood in the organization will turn things around, and make BioLogos a place for serious discussion of science and theology issues, instead of a casual coffee break where liberal Wesleyan bench scientists speak amateurishly on theological issues.

    Let’s hope. The original idea of BioLogos — dialogue between scientists and theologians over evolution and science generally — was a good one. Unfortunately, the wrong people — people academically unqualified to lead a science-theology discussion, because they have negligible theoretical accomplishments in natural science (except for Collins) and a sophomore understanding of Christian theology (including Collins) — have been in charge of the place since the beginning. This may be changing. I’m keeping an open mind.

  130. Gregory:

    As I’m one of the resident Greek scholars here, you might perhaps be willing to accept a slight correction from me.

    “Telos” (from which is derived the term “teleology”) means, in classical Greek, “end” “aim” “goal” etc. When StephenB said:

    “God directs it toward an end, which would seem to be the definition of a teleological process”

    his focus was on the word “end.” If God directs something to an *end* (*telos*) then it is correct to speak of teleology. There was no error in what StephenB said.

    It would be interesting to hear your justification for saying that for God to have a *telos* would “handcuff” God. That was not the position of any classical Christian theologian known to me. Do you have texts, from theologians of unimpeachable orthodoxy (Luther, Calvin, Aquinas, Augustine, etc.) to support this notion?

  131. Timaeus @29, thank you for the clarification.

  132. Dear long lost Timaeus,

    Sometimes you quibble over the most ridiculous little things. It is not such privileged knowledge to know the etymology of ‘telos’ as you pretend. Many know this, laypersons included. Rhetorical pedantry aimed at a qualified teacher on the topic of ‘teleology’ is simply bad form.

    The statement of StephenB’s that “God directs” involves theology, not just teleology, would you not agree?

    As it is, you take an unnecessarily myopic view of ‘teleology,’ like many in the western philosophical (or ‘history of ideas’) tradition. It is assumed that you’ll openly acknowledge that ‘western’ is the tradition you are raised and trained and currently reside in. Do you ‘beg to differ’?

    Have you ever published *anything* peer reviewed about intelligent design, evolution or creation as a scholar, Timaeus? I mean, as a real person, not just as ‘hiding behind the Greek’ character from ancient (pre-Christian) Plato on an ID-friendly blog site. Are you ‘visible’ or ‘invisible’ publically regarding your support of ID?

    Ted Davis responded to Jon Garvey recently at BioLogos negatively towards people who use pseudonyms, suggesting that this makes them willing to say things they never would if they were using their real names. As I understand it, you value Ted’s views about evolution and ID. And you say things here I doubt you ever would if you were ‘visible.’

    That you are a ‘Greek scholar’ does not impress me, Timaeus; that you are a ‘pre-modernist’ (speaking of ‘science’) or perhaps even a person who pines for a neo-classical mentality while living in a post-modern age reveals some of the difference in our approaches. Your thoughts expressed here recently about Stephen Barr both credit and debit your relevance on the broader topic of science, philosophy and theology in dialogue. You’ve given away more than you realise.

    That you don’t think ID is ‘scientific’ or a ‘science’ says much; it says enough.

    Gregory

  133. I am astounded at the intemperate tone of some of the responses from our YEC friends. Did you not read this sentence? “Therefore, I conclude that God, being God, could have created the universe on October 23, 4004 BC and made it look billions of years old just as the YECs say, even if that is not what I personally believe.”

    I like your acknowledgement that we all have the same evidence and use different interpretive frameworks. But I do sense a bit of ambiguity or subtle equivocation in your position. Notwithstanding that some YEC might agree things look old. B/c I think they only say they look old when they temporarily assume a uniformitarian framework.

    So, in the article you state that illusions of age are being explained. But there are of course “illusions of youth” that you & others that hold the uniformitarian interpretive framework must explain. … One fine example is the ICR’s testing on helium contained in radiometrically ancient zircons which supports the notion of accelerated nuclear decay, and those zircons being actually thousands of years old. Another is the discovery of soft stretchy dinosaur tissue supposedly 70million years old which is contrary to lab studies AND opposing actual laws of science. What laws does the notion of light speed decay oppose? Both of these require expalnations by old earth advocates that have to compete with known laws of science, whereas explanatiosn invovling time dialation or speed of light decay do not have to contend with known laws. Point being… explanations about these illusions from the uniformitarian fraemwork are required.

    I liked the article in many respects. Of course, I/we understand you/all have bias, but it seems you give a little less acknowledgement of your own uniformitarian bias. Because if uniformitarianism were just as much a presupposition as any interpretive frameworks – i.e. all being equal – then instead of the title:

    How TEs Are Like YECs or the Explanation of the Illusion is Itself an Illusion

    You could just as well title it:

    How TE Are Like Barry Arrington or the Explanation of the Illusion is Itself an Illusion

    or

    How Barry Arrington Are Like YEC or the Explanation of the Illusion is Itself an Illusion

    …or none of these…since it seems they all oppose the idea you wanted to convey.

    I agree with Bevets in comment 23. Note how your bias is comes to the surface with the word used “illusion”.

    Barry,

    I think you gave a reasonably balanced presentation of YEC, however I would suggest two minor points.

    1) “Illusion” of age reveals bias
    2) You did not mention Russell Humphreys Gravitational Time Dilation. (I also suspect there are a few unknown unknowns)

    For what it’s worth. I use to be an Old Earth Creationist.

  134. Gregory, you wrote:

    “The statement of StephenB’s that “God directs” involves theology, not just teleology, would you not agree?”

    Yes, I would agree! But look at your original words:

    “That’s a ‘theological’ process, not a ‘teleological’ process. Let’s not handcuff a Theos with a telos!”

    You’ve moved from “not a teleological process” to “involves theology, not just teleology.” You’ve moved from saying that StephenB misused the term “teleology” to saying that StephenB correctly used “teleology” but should have also mentioned “theology.” And that is good. By conceding that StephenB was right to speak of “teleology,” you have made the correction that I requested. So it all ends happily, and we are in agreement.

    There is, however, one other little thing to clear up, i.e., why you think that a *telos* would “handcuff” God. I was hoping you would give me some theological sources for that claim, a claim I’ve not heard before. But perhaps, in concentrating on the composition of your generous comments about me, you forgot that I had asked you that question. No matter. I’ve asked it again now. And there is no hurry. Whenever you get the time to look them up, I’ll be glad to hear from you. It’s always worth waiting if there is hope for new theological knowledge at the end of the wait.

  135. 135
    Barry Arrington

    JGuy, the difference between me and most who hold an old universe view is that I hold the uniformitarian assumption provisionally. I am perfectly willing to accept that I might be wrong and that YECs might be right. I said as much in the OP.

  136. 136

    Holy cow, Timaeus, chill out. If you don’t want to discuss metaphysics with someone who isn’t as well versed in the classics as you are then you can stop talking to me right now. I know exactly what I think, it makes perfect sense to me, and Aristotle can go immolate himself for all I care. He was wrong about motion, wrong about circular orbits, wrong about the solar system, wrong about space, and wrong about almost every topic he touched that we would today call scientific. It was people like you, Timaeus, who talked down to scientists like Galileo because heliocentrism went against Aristotle, Ptolemy and the sacred “classics.” So if the “classics” are your holy canon, then have a nice day and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

    Two things:

    1) I assumed it was clear, both from my long activity on this blog and my first posts on this thread, in which I was defending YEC, that I was YEC. I am not sure how you missed that I was defending the YEC position if you read the whole thread. Don’t accuse me of being disingenuous just because you read Greek better than English.

    2) ID does not require a particular version of natural history. We are agreed here and I have been assuming that from the beginning. It’s well understood here and normally goes without saying. I was not arguing from a position that I don’t believe. I was arguing an ID position that I believe, which also happens to include YEC, which I also believe. But my reasoning on teleology was entirely based on the ID position. I was not trying to smuggle in YEC. Why would I? It’s already included within ID.

    Moving on…

    I’m sorry I confused you. From what you’ve said I would pretty much agree with Denton on how God inputs CSI into the natural world, though we would not agree on natural history. I imagine most YECs view nature as a program that runs on its own without God inputting any CSI except at the beginning. My only quibble, my one disagreement with you, was the distinction you made between internal and external teleology. I’m sorry you took it as a massive affront to all of Christian and indeed, Western history of which you fancy yourself some kind of elite guardian.

    All I was trying to show was that ID might just require external teleology, especially on Denton’s view of the universe as a wind-up toy (which is mine as well). Dembski has posited three possible efficient causes: chance, necessity and agency. Of those three, only chance could be considered “internal” to the fundamental units of matter, and chance just happens to be non-teleological. And since we have a very good, modern understanding of efficient cause beyond those fundamental units, we know that macro-phenomenon can be broken down into chains of efficient causes, fundamental units acting upon one another according to necessity. This, in my opinion, doesn’t count as internal.

    Your definition of “internal” is arbitrary. It depends entirely upon what you define as a single unit. It could be a computer program, in which case any other programs within the same computer acting on the original program would count as external. But if you defined the entire computer as your unit, those programs would suddenly all count as internal when before they were external. So how in the Prime Mover’s name can this distinction be meaningful?

  137. 137

    Oh and congratulations for figuring out I’m of the modern persuasion. I never would have guessed it myself. Thanks to you I have found my true identity.

    For crying out loud.

  138. tragic (136):

    I realize that you weren’t deliberately concealing your YEC identity. I just wish you had announced it to me earlier in our conversation, when some of the difficulties in communication cropped up. Of course, you might not have perceived that my lack of awareness of your YEC beliefs was part of my comprehension problem. So maybe there was nothing you could have done. Sorry if I sounded as if I was blaming you. But for future reference, don’t assume that everyone who posts on UD reads every single posting under a column, or follows every individual poster. I’ve read your things from time to time, but I haven’t followed you systematically and I simply didn’t know you were YEC.

    You keep raising Aristotle, and now you refer to him as if I was defending him, and you savagely attack him. I wasn’t defending him at all in this context. I was asking why you keep equating “internal teleology” with “Aristotelian teleology.” That’s like equating “dog” with “beagle.” Aristotle gave the world one classic way of talking about internal teleology. That doesn’t mean he has a monopoly on the concept.

    By “internal teleology” I never meant what Aristotle meant, and I made that clear from the very start of the discussion, when I sensed you were possibly interpreting me that way.

    You and I now appear to agree on how Denton’s system works. It appears that we are differing merely over the application of the word “internal.” I’m saying that, because the “wind-up toy,” once it is wound up, can carry on without any further action by the person who designed it, the person who manufactured it, or the person who wound it up and released it, it must be operating entirely out of powers that are internal to it. The “wind-up toy” in Denton’s case is “all of nature” including not only all the matter but all the laws and constants. It operates without any special action of God.

    Another way of putting it is: nature for Denton is a self-contained system. It was created by God, and got all its powers and abilities from God, but, once created, it is a self-contained system. At least, that is Denton’s conception, which I’m not saying is the only possible conception of nature, or even the most Christian conception of nature. My only original point was that such a conception was compatible with ID.

    So nature contains the power to unfold itself into all its future forms, without even a hint of a wisp of further action on God’s part. No one is sticking a finger in from *outside* the system (which means from outside of nature itself) to generate life, or the Cambrian Explosion, or man. Nature produces man all by itself, and it does it by “unfolding” or “unpacking” the plan programmed into it at or before time t = 0. The teleology unfolds *within* the world of nature, *inside* the world of nature, etc. Thus, I think that my use of the notion of “internal teleology” is not only justified, but a perfectly natural use of the English language.

    Regarding the computer, I had not spoken of a computer with many programs on it, as you are now speaking, because for Denton, the universe has, ultimately, only one program in it — the one that produces man. So the best analogy is not a computer with many programs, but a computer processing the results of one task — such as the calculation of pi to 500 digits. Once the program starts running, everything that happens is totally internal — within the physical computer and within the commands as established by the programmer. Nothing outside has any effect on it. Even the programmer cannot change the outcome. So the “program to generate pi to 500 digits” is analogous to “nature” in Denton’s scheme — a self-running operation which unfolds only in reference to itself. Again, “internal” seems to me the natural word.

    But I won’t fight over a word. If you refuse to label a completely self-contained system, which has all the information it needs to do its work entirely inside of it, and unfolds its own implicit contents without the intrusion of more information or motions from outside of it, as one possessing “internal teleology” — fine. I’m not concerned about the label, I’m concerned about the meaning of the thing.

    And the meaning of the thing, as far as ID is concerned, is that there are “no miracles necessary” beyond the initial creation of matter, laws, constants, etc. So ID doesn’t require intervention, and it doesn’t require special acts by the designer of “moving particles around.” If we agree on that, we agree on the substance, and the label doesn’t matter.

    Your YEC position — assuming that it is a standard YEC position — would be quite different. God would have to “intervene” with new creative acts at several points, in order to create matter, life, species, and man. Once all these things are created, to be sure, God can then let everything run by natural laws (that is, until Biblical times when he starts breaking them for revelatory purposes), but he must intervene, i.e., perform special divine actions, in order to bring out certain major new categories of things. They don’t grow out of the earlier things; they aren’t implicit in them. Thus, the teleology of creation is what I’m calling “external,” with the finger of something outside of nature — God — sticking itself into nature (or at least, into the part of nature that has been created thus far). God literally makes the individual components of the natural world — their broad general types, anyway — whereas in Denton the natural world articulates itself, using its own powers.

    Again, I care not how we label YEC, though to me “external” teleology is every bit as natural a term for YEC as “internal” teleology is for Denton’s self-evolving nature. The important thing for me is that, while YEC can be seen as one possible ID position, not all ID positions involve the kind of external manipulation of nature that YEC (and OEC) do. And again, whatever you *meant*, many readers would take “moving the particles” to mean “external manipulation of nature by the intelligent designer” “special divine action” “intervention” “miracles” etc. That’s why I protested against your choice of words.

    As to your last question, the distinction is meaningful because in all the Western forms of theism (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) the distinction between God and nature is meaningful. If nature, without God’s special action, has certain powers of its own, those are “internal powers” of nature; if God intervenes with miracles, that is an “external action” which “intervenes” or “breaks the laws of” nature. And if nature has a built-in direction — which I’m not claiming, but which Denton argued in his book — then “internal teleology” is perfectly meaningful, because it contrasts with a view in which nature has no built-in direction, and takes its direction only from the special interventions of God which push it one way or the other, in accord with God’s plans.

    Thus, if God brought a meteor down to kill the dinosaurs by an arbitrary special action — literally diverting the meteor from its normal course — that is an example of external teleology. But if the universe is programmed so that the earth had to be where it was, and the meteor had to fall where it did, and the dinosaurs had to be destroyed, due to the conditions at t=0, so that mammals could take their rise, preparing the way for man, then the universe as a whole can be said to have an “internal teleology”. The distinction is extremely clear, and undeniably meaningful.

    I’m not trying to force you to use my terms, but I have very good reasons for using them, and I’ve now given you copious examples, analogies, etc. to show you exactly how they are useful. What you do with the terminology is up to you.

    By the way, I’m a Platonist, not an Aristotelian, so I would have been fairly well disposed toward Galileo, and also to Kepler and Newton. But not to Darwin.

  139. –Gregory to Timeaus: “The statement of StephenB’s that “God directs” involves theology, not just teleology, would you not agree?”

    Are you cuckoo! Of course it involves “theology,” if it involves God; just as it involves philosophy if it involves a rational argument, just as it involves language if it involves semantic meaning. That doesn’t mean that I deny these things are present just because I don’t mention each one by name. What nonsense.

    In any case, you didn’t use the word “theology.” as you now pretend, you used phrase “theological process,” which remains a mindlessly meaningless term until you define it and explain how it is different in kind from a teleological process.

    Would you care to provide your definition? I didn’t think so. Rational thought actually requires a certain amount of intellectual exertion.

    –”As it is, you take an unnecessarily myopic view of ‘teleology,’ like many in the western philosophical (or ‘history of ideas’) tradition. It is assumed that you’ll openly acknowledge that ‘western’ is the tradition you are raised and trained and currently reside in. Do you ‘beg to differ’?”

    By unnecessarily myopic you mean–like–consistent with the definition?

    Meanwhile, you remain clueless about the substance of what is being discussed and chime in only to obsess over the alleged misuse of words that you haven’t even bothered to define. Remarkable!

  140. 140

    Timaeus, for purposes of discussion I’ll accept those definitions. Now that you’ve defined the system as “all of nature” it makes more sense to me.

    Even accepting your definitions, I would still maintain that this internal teleology is not what ID theorists mean when they claim to detect design. The entire point of Dembski and Marks’ research on evolutionary algorithms was to show that the CSI in the programs’ output was not generated by the program. It was there all along, right from the beginning, as an external input from an intelligent agent. Internal teleology is just necessity acting out in a non-contingent manner. The real design came at the beginning, and ID tries to detect it through its output. What ID theorists are looking for is not internal teleology but external teleology in the form of CSI directly inputted by agency.

    If Denton is saying that this internal teleology is creating information, he would be disagreeing not only with me but with all of intelligent design theory. If not, then there is no disagreement, and this is truly the longest argument over nothing I’ve ever had.

  141. For StephenB,

    –tjguy: “It seems like whenever I bring up the flood, the dialog stops.”

    I don’t appreciate the insinuation, since don’t run away from any topic. If Scripture says the flood was world-wide, and if it closes the door on the possibility of a local flood, then I accept the teaching as is. If geologists are unwilling to consider that hypothesis, then that is their error.

    OK, rebuke accepted. I jumped to a wrong conclusion. Sorry. It is just that the OEC position is not really consistent with a global flood so I naturally assumed you would re-interpret that position to fit your interpretation of Genesis 1.

    We both have a passion for God and His Word although our principles of interpretation are a bit different. But I am glad that you believe in a global flood. Geologists are unwilling to consider that as a possible hypothesis because it would create havoc for and nullify evolution. It would destroy geological evidence for an old earth and for evolution. It would mean that the rocks are mostly young as opposed to billions of years old. It would mean that most of the fossils too are young. Rather than being a record of billions of years of evolution, the fossils would be a record of the order of burial of trillions and trillions of living creatures during the flood. This kind a thing is too revolutionary so they are unable to even consider this idea now – but it was the prevalent view of geologists before Lyell. So, because of that, evolutionary geologists are quite determined to find a different way to explain the geological record.

    For YEC scientists, a global flood is not a hypothesis, rather our starting point, the lens through which we interpret the geological record because we view God’s Word as truth. Anyway, I’m glad that you do accept a global flood. I’m sure then that you can see how recognizing this historical event would be important if we have any hope of coming up with an accurate understanding of the history of our planet.

  142. However, I have a question for you: Jesus says that the “Father causes the sun to rise…” Why do you not accept his teaching and choose to follow scientists who say that the earth revolves around the sun?

    Good question because Jesus’ statement here could be consistent with either a heliocentric view or a geocentric view of the solar system. Either way we interpret the statement, the meaning of what Jesus says here does not change though.(This is different than the issue we have in Genesis as our interpretation greatly changes the meaning of the passage.)

    But anyway, how do we know which is right? Here we need some outside help because there is not much in the text itself to tell us which way to interpret it. We know from other passages of Scripture though that the solar system is not the result of cosmological evolution, but was created and designed by God. In this sense, He can legitimately said to be the cause behind the rising and setting of the sun. Scientists use the language of description – looking at things from the perspective of the earth(phenomenological language) language all the time. Weather reports often mention the time of sunrise and sunset even though we all know that technically the sun does not “rise” or “set” and they are not accused of scientific error so obviously, I’m sure we both agree that Jesus can not be said to be guilty of teaching error.

    Here science can be helpful to us – not evolutionary historical science, but operational science. Why? Because we can make direct observations that verify this. We can test both theories, and actually observe with our own eyes which is right. This is not possible when dealing with the interpretation problem of Genesis. No one can go back and observe the length of the days of Genesis.

    Although the text in Matthew is not very helpful in knowing how to take Jesus’ words, in Genesis we have whole chapters, large sections of Scripture with which to work. Genesis is the most quoted book in the whole Bible and it is instructive and important to see how other Scriptural writers viewed Genesis. They all recognized it as literal history.

  143. For StephenB:

    —tjguy: “If you can show me that God’s Word teaches an old earth using sound methods of biblical interpretation, then I’m all ears. I would be happy to believe that, but until I can be convinced from God’s Word, I prefer to trust God who saw what happened as opposed to the naturalistic interpretations of history by modern day scientists who did not see what happened.”

    You would have to be open to the fact that the Bible contains many genres, including poetry, allegory, argument, and. get this, incomplete history. I don’t think you are open to that fact. Yes, much of the Old Testament is historical, as are the Gospels in the New Testament, but some of it is not. You are assuming, I gather, that only one Biblical genre exists, namely the historical and you interpret everything in that context.

    OK, sorry, but here I need to ask you why you would assume that I am not open to the idea of various genres in the Bible. That is an undeniable fact. There are prophetical, poetical, bibliographical, historical, and apocalyptic sections as well as others I’m sure.

    I confess that I don’t know what you mean by incomplete history. I mean, when can any historical record really be said to be complete? Does the fact that it is not complete invalidate what it does say? That is not my view of the Bible.

    That is the first time I have ever heard that mentioned as a genre of Scripture. To be honest, it sounds like someone’s efforts to qualify Genesis in such a way to read long ages into the text. But anyway, yes, I agree that we need to know what kind of literature we are interpreting.

  144. tragic (140):

    We’re finally on the same page, it seems.

    I have not studied the most recent statements of Dembski and Marks, but I do know from other reading that Dembski, Meyer, Wells, and one or two others have objected to Denton’s scenario. They do not think that any “cosmic program,” no matter how sophisticated, could account for the specific things that life needs and/or that later evolution would have to be able to do. They think that there would have to be fresh inputs of new information, not just at the beginning of time, but on one or more occasions afterward. What this amounts to is “interventionism” or “moving particles around.”

    Meyer seems to argue that there are elements in the DNA-protein coding system that are simply arbitrary — more than one such system would be chemically possible. Therefore, a “programmed Big Bang,” when it got to the division between non-life and life, would be powerless to produce life, because a programmed, necessitarian natural process couldn’t make the necessarily arbitrary choice of how the code would work. At that point, at least, the decision and action of an intelligent agent would have to be inserted. So even if evolution could carry on by itself after the first cell, there would still have to be that one intervention — to establish the particulars of the code. So, at least one miracle, after the Big Bang. That seems to be the implied claim of his book. There is also reason to believe that Meyer thinks that information was input at least once more — during the Cambrian Explosion. So that would make at least two miracles, on Meyer’s account.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the others — Nelson, Dembski, and Wells in particular — believed that there would have to be many more than these two moments of “information injection.”

    Michael Behe has been more open to Denton. He has not said that interventionist input of new information is necessary, and he has allowed Denton’s scheme as a possibility. But he may well personally believe that special inputs of information did in fact occur.

    In reading these remarks, keep in mind that Denton lays much less stress on “information” than Meyer and Dembski do. Even Behe doesn’t talk about “information” all that much. So what we are seeing is a difference in approaches among ID theorists themselves, with the biochemists less enamored of “information” than the others.

    That is is why I would continue to resist expressions like “what ID theorists mean.” That’s like saying: “What Christians mean,” without taking into account that Catholics, Anglicans, Reformed, Seventh-Day Adventists, Pentecostals, etc., can be light-years apart on important matters of both theory and practice. Newton didn’t accept the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity, but I wouldn’t say that he wasn’t a Christian. So if Denton is the odd man out among ID theorists, I’m not going to say he isn’t an ID theorist. He’s just an ID theorist with a minority view. He therefore can’t be disagreeing with “all of intelligent design theory”; he surely doesn’t disagree with the part of intelligent design theory represented by himself!

    I’m not refereeing between these guys — Denton and the others. I don’t know enough biology and biochemistry, and I don’t know enough mathematics and information theory, and I’m not setting myself up as judge. Can a programmed, necessitarian process such as Denton imagines produce new “CSI”? The others say no, Behe says maybe, Denton says yes (though without speaking much, if at all, about “CSI”). I say the jury is out. And as long as it’s out, I’m going to maintain a broad definition of ID as “the belief that Darwinian theory is bankrupt, and that intelligent design was necessary to produce what we see, whether by direct creation or through some guided or planned evolutionary process,” and under that definition I’ll continue to count Denton (and anyone else who supports him) as an ID person.

    I guess what it amounts to is that we are both right: I think I am right to reject your generalization about “what ID believes” or “what ID people claim”; but for most of the leading ID proponents (this may be slightly less true of the rank-and-file ID supporters), ID requires “moving particles around” (whether those particles are atoms, molecules, or genes) to insert new information, and something like Denton’s view is just not empirically or theoretically credible.

  145. For StephenB:

    So we are back to what I think the author had in mind. Genesis is arguing for an ex-nilio (out of nothing) origin of the universe and a transcendent (as opposed to immanent) God. In keeping with that point,

    I find your views here very interesting. I agree that Genesis speaks of ex-nihilo creation but why do you say it argues for a transcendent God but not an immanent God. The Bible as a whole presents God as both transcendent and immanent.

    Here, I see many indications that God is an immanent God. The text speaks clearly of His regular involvement in His creation – creating new things each day. This speaks to me of an immanent Creator.

    “In keeping with that point,…”

    Well, just making a statement without backing it up, doesn’t really make for a good foundation on which to base your whole argument, but anyway, going on…

    it describes the relationship between God and man (creator, creature), teaching that the universe was made for man and the glory of God, providing the proper theological orientation by which man may save his soul.

    Hmm. You kind of lost me there. I don’t see anything in Genesis about how man can save his soul. Besides, it is God who saves us, not ourselves, which you probably agree with. It does tell us that originally man was created without sin and did have a relationship with God. It tells us how through sin this relationship was ruined and lost. And it tells us how one day, God would send someone to destroy the devil – the seeds of the gospel. Perhaps that verse, Gen. 3:15 is what you are referring to?

    This passage does describe the relationship of the Creator to His creation. The Creator gives commands and the creation obeys. We see that in all 3 chapters of the creation account. But we also see a God who had a close relationship with man. He created man directly from the dust of the earth and made him in His own image. He was very involved in His creation. God communicated with and had fellowship with Adam and Eve while they lived in the garden and He even created for them a special place to live. (This again speaks of immanence to me.)

    I agree that the universe was made for God’s glory, but again, I don’t really see that truth spelled out for us very clearly here in Genesis. Where do you see it? Perhaps it can be inferred from Gen.1:31 where God looked back on what He had made and said it was “very good”?

    I take the “very good” idea to mean that there was no death, no carnivory, no suffering, and no disease in God’s original “very good” creation, because these things would never be said to be “very good” by God. Plus we’re told that the animals were given plants to eat when they were originally created. Perhaps the perfection of the original creation can be said to speak of God’s glory, but that teaching really comes out more clearly in other parts of the Bible.

    How much time was involved in the process is a far less important point

    You claim that time was not important. In one sense you might be right. God could have created however He wanted to. How long He took is not the MOST important point of the passage, but that doesn’t mean that God was not telling us something about this when He inspired Moses as he wrote this account. Personally, I think time is more important to God here than you think. I think He took 6 literal 24 hour days to create the universe for a very specific and important reason. He Himself tells us what that was in Ex 20:11. In fact, He wrote this with His own finger on the stone tablet for Moses. He deliberately did it in 6 days to give us the pattern for our week. He compares the 6 days of creation and one day of rest with the 6 days of our week and day of rest.

    It is not good hermeneutics to interpret the word “day” in two different ways in the very same verse. He doesn’t use the language of metaphor or allegory here. He doesn’t use any other words that would imply long periods of time nor does he use the word “day” in a way that would lead to that kind of understanding. He simply tells us that He took 6 days to create the heavens and the earth.

    and you can’t expect the author, who had one intention, namely an argument supplemented by an incomplete historical account[this is your opinion], to provide a time-table description that would be reminiscent of another kind of intention.

    Your whole argument here is based on this arbitrary assertion that the author only had one simple intention. You don’t think that God is capable of communicating more than one point through a passage of Scripture I’m sure.

    Actually, I believe God, who inspired the account, and Moses who was inspired to write this account, did intend to say something about time because of the way it is written and because of the verse I just mentioned where He explains why He took 6 days.

    So, at this point, lacking any reasons/evidence that this is indeed the correct way to read Genesis 1, I remain unconvinced. I await your explanation of the evidence upon which you base your interpretation here.

    * What is there in the text that makes you think this was the author’s intention?

    + or that it was his only intention?

    + Are there some grammatical reasons or exegetical reasons that you find in this passage on which to base this claim?
    + Are there other passages of Scripture that enlighten us on Moses’ intentions here?

    I’m sure you must have some evidence to back it up or you wouldn’t take such an unorthodox position. I’m just curious as to what that is.

    Can you also please explain to me what hermeneutical principles you use when approaching a particular passage?

    One such principle (that I also employ) would be to try and discern the original author’s intent which is what you claim to be doing here, but I just have no idea how you came up with your answer.

    Offhand it seems to me to be an ad hoc explanation to make long ages fit in the Bible, but I’ll wait to see what evidence you have to back up your claim before jumping to a conclusion.

    Plus, correct me if I am wrong, but it seems like you are discounting most of what God has told us here in this passage with one sleight of the hand. It seems like you are saying that since the author only had one intention, we can ignore everything else he said here as not being grounded in reality. It was all written simply to get across his one point.

    If so, that is certainly not clear from the text in my mind. I find it hard to believe that the whole Bible is built on a foundation made up of this kind of a wobbly unclear assumption that I cannot find in the text itself.

    Perhaps in a later post I can share the reasons I think this passage demands to be taken literally and what principles of hermeneutics YECs use when approaching Scripture. It is not the wooden literalism that seem to insinuate that we use – ie we view the whole Bible as nothing more than historical narrative.

  146. There was a copying error in Genesis 1.
    When Adam originally wrote it down it had the word “billion” next to the numbers. Moses took that out when he transcribed it because he thought that bit was not from YHWH.

  147. -tjguy: “Genesis speaks of ex-nihilo creation but why do you say it argues for a transcendent God but not an immanent God. The Bible as a whole presents God as both transcendent and immanent.

    God “looked at his creation and saw that it was good.” The author’s purpose for writing that statement is to refute pantheism and emphasize God’s transcendence. God’s immanence is described elsewhere.

    –”Here, I see many indications that God is an immanent God. The text speaks clearly of His regular involvement in His creation – creating new things each day. This speaks to me of an immanent Creator.”

    God’s immanence refers to his presence “inside” His creatures or creation.

    –”Besides, it is God who saves us, not ourselves, which you probably agree with.”

    I agree that God saves us, but I also think we, too, have something to say about our salvation, which is why I am more concerned with heresy than the age of the universe.

    —”God communicated with and had fellowship with Adam and Eve while they lived in the garden and He even created for them a special place to live. (This again speaks of immanence to me.)

    God’s transcendence is reflected insofar as He is communicating with Adam and Eve from the outside. His immanence is reflected in Adam and Eve’s powers of reason and volition, which reflects the power of God operating inside a human being. Remember, immanence refers to God as He exists “inside” his creation.

    —”I take the “very good” idea to mean that there was no death, no carnivory, no suffering, and no disease in God’s original “very good” creation, because these things would never be said to be “very good” by God.”

    The term “very good” is also meant to assure us that ALL of God’s creation is good, both spirit (soul) and matter (body). It anticipates the error of Manicheism and Gnosticism, the heresies which declared that spirit is good and matter is bad.

    –”In one sense you might be right. God could have created however He wanted to. How long He took is not the MOST important point of the passage, but that doesn’t mean that God was not telling us something about this when He inspired Moses as he wrote this account. Personally, I think time is more important to God here than you think. I think He took 6 literal 24 hour days to create the universe for a very specific and important reason.”

    You may be right. I am not dead set against YEC or a 6 day creation. I just happen to think that the author had bigger fish to fry for reasons I mentioned above (anticipating the heresies of pantheism, manicheism, Gnosticism, and a number of other potential errors I have not mentioned.

    -

    What do you think the author was trying to say, and in what order of importance do you place the points?

    Also, Jesus once said, “My Father causes the sun to rise.” Given that quote, why do you take the word of scientists who say that the earth revolves around the sun?”

    –”Your whole argument here is based on this arbitrary assertion that the author only had one simple intention.”

    No, I didn’t say that. I said that he was more concerned about some things than others, and I was very careful to point out which things I think are more important.

    —”You don’t think that God is capable of communicating more than one point through a passage of Scripture I’m sure.”

    You are putting words in my mouth. Please don’t do that. God can write on several levels and usually does.

    —”Actually, I believe God, who inspired the account, and Moses who was inspired to write this account, did intend to say something about time because of the way it is written and because of the verse I just mentioned where He explains why He took 6 days.”

    I think you may well be right.

    —”I’m sure you must have some evidence to back it up or you wouldn’t take such an unorthodox position. I’m just curious as to what that is.”

    Well, if it is a salvation issue or a heresy issue, I pay no attention whatsoever to claims made or outside of Scripture. But if it is on matters less important, I allow input from science [albeit fair science, not partisan science] to shape my opinion. Since I think the evidence is good for a 13 billion year old universe, and since Biblical authors sometimes write in different genres, I weigh all those elements and conclude (for now) that the author of Genesis was not referring to 24 hour days. If I knew that Genesis was, strictly speaking, a historical document IN EVERY WAY, or if uniformatarianism was shown to be false, I would likely abandon my position and become a YEC. My attitude on this matter is provisional. Most of all, though, I need a very good answer to the question of why it takes light billions of years to reach us from distant galaxies. Do you have a good argument to show that this perception is false? If not, spare me all your other arguments.

    -

    —”Plus, correct me if I am wrong, but it seems like you are discounting most of what God has told us here in this passage with one sleight of the hand. It seems like you are saying that since the author only had one intention, we can ignore everything else he said here as not being grounded in reality. It was all written simply to get across his one point.”

    I believe that I stated several times that more than one point is being made and I think I explained why some things are more important than others. It is more important to avoid a heresy because that will affect our salvation. I don’t think our salvation depends on our conceptions about the age of the universe.

    –”Perhaps in a later post I can share the reasons I think this passage demands to be taken literally and what principles of hermeneutics YECs use when approaching Scripture. It is not the wooden literalism that seem to insinuate that we use – ie we view the whole Bible as nothing more than historical narrative.”

    I would be more interested in your arguments explaining how the light beam from a star reputed to be a billion light years away is, in fact, only a few thousand years old.

    Oh yes, and tell me why you do not accept Jesus’ statements that “the Father causes the sun to rise” and why you choose to accept the alternate explanation by scientists to the effect that the earth revolves around the sun.

  148. JGuy, the difference between me and most who hold an old universe view is that I hold the uniformitarian assumption provisionally. I am perfectly willing to accept that I might be wrong and that YECs might be right. I said as much in the OP.

    But would you agree that those that hold a uniformitarian presupposition must explain certain evidences that are illusions of youth? Such as the two evidences I gave as examples in the prior comment. Ifso, then uniformitarianism is like TE explaining the illusion of design. Everyone must explain illusions of historical science.

    Except for, interestingly, the fact that the illusion of age exists/manifests in a YEC framework when employing a uniformitarian framework. It is not an internal contradiction. However, the illusion of youth in the uniformitarian view can not attribute the contradiction to the interpretation from another framework. This seems to create a be a kind of internal contradiction, b/c the uniformitarian’s case of the illusion of youth is employing it’s own uniformitarian methodology. Seems to me the uniformitarian framework has to deal with a bigger issue with explaining than YEC.

    Perhaps, we can call this the illusion of any illusions about the YEC frameworks.

  149. Timaeus @ #144

    Front loading v “clunky” interference. Of course, Robert H Russell’s quantum tweaking is more like an ongoing creative input than an interference. But it is still interesting to consider the strengths/weaknesses of either “initial” or “ongoing” direction of creation.

    God, it seems likely to me (as to Augustine and Einstein, though not to the Open Theists and Process Theologians), dwells and creates in eternity, so that the world’s history is spread before him, so to speak, as a time line, all at once.

    From the Bible’s point of view, God’s purposes predominate over processs (in other words he wills goals and how to meet them rather than methods and where they may end up).

    He is free to act at any and every point in the timeline “simultaneously”, from his eternal point of view. One could also compare that to an artist with a finished scene in his mind, who can put marks wherever he likes on the paper to build up the image – or even stamp it all at once with a woodblock if he prefers.

    With that in mind, it’s worth asking what advantages, if any, there would be to putting all his creative input into one point of the timeline, the “left” end (or beginning to us) rather than over the whole history of time.

  150. 150
    Barry Arrington

    JGuy, if there were scientific evidence for a young earth then those who hold an old earth position would obviously have to try to explain that. I do not know whether the matters you pointed to count as evidence of a young earth, or, if they do, how mainstream scientists would explain them.

  151. Jon Garvey (149):

    Good points. I’ll focus here only on your comment on Russell.

    I haven’t read enough of Russell to discern how often he thinks the quantum-level interference happens. If he thinks that God employs such interference only rarely, say, only at the Cambrian Explosion, and to create life, and to make some special change in some hominid to make it human, then his idea would fall under my first alternative. But if he envisions it as an ongoing process, continuous or nearly so, then it would be a different kind of thing.

    If God is playing around at the quantum level almost moment by moment, then the image we would have is not of Darwinian evolution moving along mostly by itself, with occasional “corrections” from On High to put it back on its course toward man. God’s involvement would be so thorough and constant that we could no longer think of the process as “basically Darwinian, but with some assistance.” It really wouldn’t be a Darwinian process at all, but a steadily guided process. Natural selection might still operate, but the mutations would be so carefully prepared by an intelligent agent that neither Darwin nor any of the neo-Darwinians would call this a natural process or even a slightly modified natural process. Even if the interference was indetectable by the instruments of science, so that the mutations looked “random,” it would still be cheating, they would say, to offer this as a scientific explanation of the origin of species, because the real driver is not nature, but God.

    That said, if we for the moment forget about whether the Darwinians would approve of Russell’s solution, and think about it theologically, it might well be a more Biblical and traditionally orthodox way of thinking about creation than either of the other positions mentioned. The “nature can create most everything new by itself, with just an occasional assist from God” position (Darwinism plus the odd miracle) doesn’t feel Biblical or traditional at all. In the Bible every major category of creation — plants, sea creatures, birds, land animals, man, firmament, stars, etc. — is pictured as a special creation of God. Sometimes even particular creatures are given particular foods by God, as in Job. And the “programmed evolution” model seems to leave God with very little to do by way of creative interaction, which again seems not in tune with the Biblical way of thinking about things.

    The Biblical way of thinking about things involves a dynamic interaction between God and creation — not just in the case of Biblical miracles (as BioLogos would have it) — but from the start of Creation onward. Russell’s view perhaps can be harmonized with the Biblical view better than the others I’ve mentioned. I’ll have to have a look at him again sometime.

  152. Barry Arrington 150

    JGuy, if there were scientific evidence for a young earth then those who hold an old earth position would obviously have to try to explain that. I do not know whether the matters you pointed to count as evidence of a young earth, or, if they do, how mainstream scientists would explain them.

    YECs will always say the Bible is the best evidence. The flood is rarely taken into account in OEC dating assumptions. AIG has published quite a bit on evidence for young earth. You can find an introducion here and more here.

  153. 153

    Fair enough, Timaeus.

    The problem that ID would have with Denton’s scenario (if he really means that the algorithm/nature itself can generate information) is that it can easily be hijacked by those wishing to show that the system can create new information without intelligence. In other words if the system itself can produce information, where’s the need for intelligence? Denton would be no different than a TE at that point, slapping intelligence onto a scenario that doesn’t need it. If the intelligent input is not necessary, then many will begin to point that out. At which point the view will no longer be intelligent design theory because it requires no intelligent design.

  154. tragic mishap:

    Briefly:

    1. “The problem that ID would have with Denton’s scenario” is not correctly expressed, since Denton is an ID proponent, not someone outside of ID.

    The correct expression would be:

    “The problem that *many ID proponents* would have with Denton’s ID scenario”

    I’ve made this point in two or three different ways over the course of our conversation; this is the last time I’ll make it.

    2. On the more substantive theoretical question that you raise:

    a. Denton never says or implies that “intelligent input is not necessary”; what he says is that all the intelligent input is put into the universe at t=0, and that no *new* intelligent input is needed after that. This is again clearly understandable in computer science terms. One writes a program, and then runs it, and it outputs its result. One doesn’t write a program, start running it, then, while it is still running, hurriedly write new code, and jam the new lines of code into the computer in the middle of the operation. The code originally written has to be sufficient to produce the output. And the code as originally written is certainly the product of “intelligence” and therefore “intelligent input.”

    Denton’s scenario of course implies that nature, set up the way that he imagines it to have been set up, *could* produce new information. One can argue that Denton is wrong, i.e., that *no* set of natural laws and constants, no matter how cleverly calibrated, even by an infinitely powerful mind, could ever establish a self-evolving universe in which new biological information is constantly being added, turning bacteria into man. One could argue that new information would have to be input at a number of points. That’s what Dembski et al. have argued. But this is *an internal quarrel among ID theorists*, not, as you have been mischaracterizing it, as “ID vs. Denton.”

    b. As to your question “Where’s the need for intelligence?” I can’t understand how you can possibly ask that, when the answer is blindingly obvious. Without the designer’s intelligence to set the initial laws and parameters, nature would never have the power to produce stars, planets, oxygen atmospheres, macromolecules, cells, multicellular life, all the way up to man. Denton’s scheme rests *entirely* on the premise of intelligence — the mind of the designer must be able to see ahead a billion trillion times further than the most advanced supercomputer we have yet devised. He must be able to predict the whole cascade of efficient causes for a colossal number of variables, and determine that only settings X and Y and Z at the beginning will be able to produce Man as the output. If that isn’t “intelligent design” I don’t know what the h*** intelligent design is.

    I’m now ending my side of this conversation. There is nothing I can add that wouldn’t be repeating myself. But I strongly recommend that you read *Nature’s Destiny*. Even if you completely reject the evolutionary scenario of Part II (which as a YEC you will), the argument for fine-tuning in Part I is something that any creationist could embrace, and is worth the price of the book by itself.

  155. tragic:

    Just a footnote to one of your remarks:

    “Denton would be no different than a TE at that point, slapping intelligence onto a scenario that doesn’t need it.”

    This is incorrect. Denton’s scenario absolutely requires intelligence, as explained above. But to focus on the comparison with TEs, I offer the following.

    The main differences between Denton and most TEs (virtually all BioLogos TEs, most of the ASA-TEs, and others) are:

    1. Denton does not evade discussing the role of God in evolution: he specifies exactly what God does. Most TEs, on the other hand, routinely avoid the question, or equivocate, or obfuscate, or change the subject. The recent slipperiness of Falk and Venema in response to Crude, and of Falk in response to Jon Garvey, are just two examples of the general pattern which ID people have observed for as long as they’ve read and debated with the leading TEs.

    2. In Denton’s theory, God (not necessarily the Biblical God, but at least an intelligent designer with Divine powers) is absolutely necessary to make the whole account work. In most versions of TE, on the other hand, God is an optional and gratuitous explanation, above and beyond the scientific explanation. Belief in creation is a private faith statement which has nothing to do with the publically accessible truths of science, a religious gloss which the scientist, if a believer, can choose to put on top of his wholly naturalistic account of origins. The naturalistic explanation of origins would be complete and intellectually satisfying without the reference to God. The invocation of God is to indicate the piety of the scientist, not to explain anything about nature. In contrast, Denton, not being a Christian, is not concerned to make a public show of his piety; he is concerned only to explain what he, as a scientist, sees in nature. And what he sees requires God as part of the explanation.

    3. Connected with this, most TEs are openly or subtly hostile to natural theology, whereas Denton makes clear that his researches, though not originally begun with that intention, constitute a modern argument for natural theology.

    4. TEs are generally rabidly pro-Darwin; their evolutionary biology is generally mid-20th-century neo-Darwinism. Denton’s book completely trashes Darwinian explanation, replacing chance and randomness by necessity and fine-tuning.

    These are very significant differences.

    If any further confirmation is needed, the TEs generally either don’t like Denton, or, if they read him or hear about his ideas, react with near-complete non-interest. If he was close to their own position, as you imply, they would be loudly applauding him. Yet there hasn’t been a single column about his work on BioLogos in the five years of its existence, and the only times he has been mentioned there the comments have come from ID supporters. The explanation is not far to seek: the biologists at BioLogos are not going to approve of anyone who questions St. Darwin, and the general theological orientation at BioLogos (and throughout most of TE-dom, though there are a few exceptions) is fideist, and Denton’s connection of science and theology (from nature to God via fine-tuning) is, to a fideist, taboo.

    So no, Denton’s approach is almost nothing like any TE approach known to me. The only similarities (that he accepts macroevolution, and a naturalistic delivery system for it) are overwhelmed by the crucial differences in both science and theology.

  156. Timaeus

    Blue sky thinking here on a theocentric, teleological natural creation. Supposing God likes to keep hands on, as per our last two posts? Not interference, mind – it’s continuous creation in the Biblical sense of both sustaining and government, his normal mechanism of providence in both the natural and human worlds. It may well (in Russell’s version) be completely within natural law – what is actually being inputed is continuous information, which natural science isn’t even currently interested in.

    Yet the evidence shows signs of descent with modification over aeons (or at the very least modification with variation), rather than special de-novo creation in the pre-Darwinian manner. Can one suggest why that would be a good way to work?

    What about the underlying methodology of the Genesis account (though I go with Walton that it’s a functional, not a material, account of origins), ie the progressive moulding of chaos into order?

    So he chooses the end point, creates brute matter/energy/time at the Big Bang, and progressively terraforms matter (to use Mike Gene’s phrase) into the shape that matches his “final” purpose*. That order includes natural law, so that comes into it as part, but not the whole, plan.

    There could be a few reasons for doing it in time, rather than instantly (let’s help Augustine out here!): one would be to demonstrate (to us and the angels, I guess) his wise ordering of things from raw materials. Another might be that having chosen to put mankind into a world working towards a historical endpoint, it makes sense to project that back to a simple start-point even before mankind arrives on the scene. A third would be that our discovery of “endless forms most beautiful” in the past is material for worship – which is our job here, after all.

    *I’m viewing “final” here as the point at which man appears to appreciate what’s going on – in fact God has a final, final purpose to which everything is still headed.

  157. StephenB @ 147,

    God’s immanence refers to his presence “inside” His creatures or creation. God’s transcendence is reflected insofar as He is communicating with Adam and Eve from the outside. His immanence is reflected in Adam and Eve’s powers of reason and volition, which reflects the power of God operating inside a human being. Remember, immanence refers to God as He exists “inside” his creation.

    OK, well, I see The LORD God active in his creation here as well. He formed Man(Adam) from the dust of the ground. He could have done that from far away by command I guess. He took a rib from Adam and created Eve. Perhaps this too could have been accomplished from far away by command. But the clincher for me is Genesis 3:8. “they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.”

    My inference would then be that the commands He gave to them were not given from far away, but that God spoke with Adam previously in this same way He spoke to them here. They had fellowship together at that point because there was not yet any sin separating them. So I don’t agree with your conclusion that the creation account only shows his transcendence, but actually, I don’t see what that has to do with how we interpret the passage.

    And I still don’t see any support from the text that this one point is the author’s main point. Sure God is transcendent, but more than that, God is the Creator with a perfect plan who carefully designed and created the universe. We see that God speaks with power and authority. He created with His Word – Jesus is the Word of God. He is personal and He can communicate. Very important for people who do not believe in a personal God. He even tells us that He created them according to their kinds – that the animals were originally vegetarian. We see the special creation of man which is extremely important in understand the difference between humans and all other creatures. He gives man a job – to rule/take care of the earth and fill the earth. He created a special place for them to live. Then we have the foundational teaching on marriage in 2:24. This leads into the fall and is a major doctrine of Scripture from which our need for salvation is derived. If there was no literal Fall, we are not born into sin and the Bible is teaching falsehood(I’m not implying that you believe that by the way.)Anyway, because it concerns our salvation, these had to be literal physical events. I agree with you about your point of God’s transcendence, but I just think there is a lot lot more there and I’m not sure I would say that God’s transcendence is THE major point the author is trying to get across here. If you have any evidence for that outside of someone’s opinion, I’m open to considering that.

    —”I take the “very good” idea to mean that there was no death, no carnivory, no suffering, and no disease in God’s original “very good” creation, because these things would never be said to be “very good” by God.”

    The term “very good” is also meant to assure us that ALL of God’s creation is good, both spirit (soul) and matter (body). It anticipates the error of Manicheism and Gnosticism, the heresies which declared that spirit is good and matter is bad.

    I agree. It anticipates those two heresies as well as any teaching that doesn’t agree with this Scriptural truth that God’s creation was “very good”. But I’m glad you understand that it does also deny death, carnivory, suffering, and disease. This is a key point that many OECs miss. This also has implications for how old the fossils could be.

  158. You may be right(about the importance of time in Gen 1). I am not dead set against YEC or a 6 day creation. I just happen to think that the author had bigger fish to fry for reasons I mentioned above (anticipating the heresies of pantheism, manicheism, Gnosticism, and a number of other potential errors I have not mentioned.

    Why do you limit it to those heresies? Couldn’t He also have wanted to make a statement against evolution here? After all, evolution demands huge amounts of time to be viable. If we go with a young earth, evolution is automatically falsified. SO I would add evolution to the list of heresies that chapter 1 deals with. It has done a lot of harm to Christianity and led many a believer astray.

    –”Your whole argument here is based on this arbitrary assertion that the author only had one simple intention.” —”You don’t think that God is capable of communicating more than one point through a passage of Scripture I’m sure.”

    No, I didn’t say that. I said that he was more concerned about some things than others, and I was very careful to point out which things I think are more important. You are putting words in my mouth. Please don’t do that. God can write on several levels and usually does.

    I’m sorry. That is how I understood what you wrote. I was just quoting what you said: “How much time was involved in the process is a far less important point and you can’t expect the author, who had one intention, namely an argument supplemented by an incomplete historical account, to provide a time-table description that would be reminiscent of another kind of intention.”

    —”I’m sure you must have some evidence to back it up or you wouldn’t take such an unorthodox position. I’m just curious as to what that is.”

    Well, if it is a salvation issue or a heresy issue, I pay no attention whatsoever to claims made or outside of Scripture. But if it is on matters less important, I allow input from science [albeit fair science, not partisan science] to shape my opinion.

    I still don’t see your evidence for stating that the author had one intention.

    OK, I find it interesting that on matters of salvation or heresy, you ignore outside sources, but when it comes to “matters of less importance”, you give science preference to God’s Word. In some ways, I understand that thinking, but to be honest, I don’t find the distinction in the Bible. The whole Bible either is or is not God’s Word. It either is God’s truth or it is not. You seem to make an arbitrary distinction here that God does not make. Given our status as humans who are hard pressed to be correct 100% of the time, I understand what you are saying, but I personally still have trouble with giving science that kind of authority.

    Since I think the evidence is good for a 13 billion year old universe, and since Biblical authors sometimes write in different genres, I weigh all those elements and conclude (for now) that the author of Genesis was not referring to 24 hour days. If I knew that Genesis was, strictly speaking, a historical document IN EVERY WAY, or if uniformatarianism was shown to be false, I would likely abandon my position and become a YEC. My attitude on this matter is provisional.

    Granted, there is some evidence for an old earth universe, but I think there is also evidence for a young universe as well. I think that much of what you refer to as evidence for an old universe is evidence mainly because of the OEC interpretation of the observations. Don’t forget they absolutely must have an old universe to keep their beliefs afloat. They have no other option so they look to interpret everything they see through that paradigm.

    Either side has anomalies that are difficult to explain. There are lots of problems with an old earth universe for instance, in cosmology. There is a light time travel problem with the Big Bang too. There are planets & moons that still have volcanic activity that should have been dead long ago(Pluto’s moon Charon, Enceladus, etc) There are planets with rings that should have disappeared eons ago. There are comets that should have disappeared eons ago so they save themselves by positing the existence of an Oort Cloud(Might as well posit God or a Flying Spaghetti Monster as the source for the comets if they do that.) These observations and others do not fit the theory, so ad hoc explanations/just so stories are invented to save their theory. Could it be that you are placing too much faith in the ability of humans to properly interpret their observations and discern truths about the distant past which they cannot observe?

    Uniformitarianism is easily falsified. How? By the fact of a global flood.

    The flood shows that you cannot just assume uniformitarianism and expect to come up with an accurate understanding of the past. The flood destroys the evidence for an old earth as far as geology goes. It destroys the evidence for evolution as the fossils would be rather recent. It shows that most dating methods are way off when it comes to discerning the age of the rocks.

    David Coppedge of Creation Evolution Headlines has 2 good recent articles that shed more light on the problems of uniformitarianism called Earth myths and rapid undersea geology. Following the whole thread labelled dating methods might be an interesting read.

  159. Most of all, though, I need a very good answer to the question of why it takes light billions of years to reach us from distant galaxies. Do you have a good argument to show that this perception is false? If not, spare me all your other arguments.

    So even if the text argues for a literal interpretation, even if the geological evidence for an old earth is removed, even if the rest of the Bible fits with the young earth interpretation, still you would reject that on the basis of the starlight issue?

    My take on this is that even if we cannot explain it fully, God’s Word is still correct. Romans 3:4 “By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.” Personally, I don’t think God is too concerned about whether or not scientists agree with His Word or not. He will speak the truth and it will be the truth, even if every single human being were to deny it. If He tells us something clearly in His Word, I think believing that is our responsibility.

    For me it is clear, so that is where I start. I don’t rest my faith on the fallible changing ideas of human scientists whose ideas continually change, but on God’s Word which is unchanging truth.

    My confidence comes from my strong belief that the Scripture itself demands a literal interpretation of Genesis 1.

    “It is more important to avoid a heresy because that will affect our salvation. I don’t think our salvation depends on our conceptions about the age of the universe.”

    This is true, but I think the OEC position can actually undermine salvation by teaching that death, disease, suffering, bloodshed, etc. all were a part of God’s original creation. If so, it means that these things were not the result of sin like the Bible tells us. I assume you believe Adam was a literal person, but not all OECers do. Compromising on the time issue often leads to other compromises for many people.

    –”Perhaps in a later post I can share the reasons I think this passage demands to be taken literally and what principles of hermeneutics YECs use when approaching Scripture. It is not the wooden literalism that seem to insinuate that we use – ie we view the whole Bible as nothing more than historical narrative.”

    I would be more interested in your arguments explaining how the light beam from a star reputed to be a billion light years away is, in fact, only a few thousand years old.

    Like I told you, I start with God’s Word and work from there. I’m not surprised that you are more interested in that because you seem to place greater emphasis on what evolutionary historical science tells us than on the plain meaning of the Bible itself. For me, I’m more interested in what the text says and then worry about the science part of it later. This is why we arrive at different conclusions concerning the age of the earth. Our approach is different. I don’t know if you are interested or not, but if so, please read the article on CMI’s website entitled Age of the Earth. It gives 101 evidences of a young earth as interpreted through a young earth framework. Perhaps an OECer would see some of the evidences differently as interpreted through their framework, I don’t know. Might be interesting. At least it will give you an idea of some of the scientific reasons that help to support our faith in God’s Word. About starlight, I would suggest reading this article on CMI’s website: “How can distant starlight reach us in just 6,000 years?” At least it will introduce you to two possible answers to this question from a YEC perspective. I will post some of the reasons I believe Genesis should be taken literally in my next post.

    Oh yes, and tell me why you do not accept Jesus’ statements that “the Father causes the sun to rise” and why you choose to accept the alternate explanation by scientists to the effect that the earth revolves around the sun.

    I think I already addressed that. Please go back and read what I wrote and if you have questions, come back again to the subject.

  160. Timaeus @67 and Barry @70:

    I think you’re both missing the boat, with regard to the prevalence of physical scientists in the religion/science literature. Nearly all of the top religion/science scholars come out of physics or one of the physical sciences: Polkinghorne, Barbour, Peacocke (the big 3, if you will), Murphy, Paul Davies, Barr, McMullin, … IMO this results from three factors. First, it’s the physical scientists, not the biologists, who deal in their own disciplines with the fundamental properties of matter, with the nature of nature if you will. Physics is the modern form of “natural philosophy,” and natural philosophers have often asked deep questions about the existence and nature of nature. It’s also far more wide ranging than the biological sciences: everything in the universe is a physical system; fewer things are chemical systems, and only a tiny handful of things (relatively speaking) are biological systems.

    Second, the biologists are the ones who deal all the time with the “nastiness” of creation, the “dark side” of creation, such as parasitism and virulent micro-organisms. They are the ones who usually face questions of theodicy. Dawkins puts this in very stark terms, for good reasons. IMO, there is simply no hope of answering questions of theodicy without appealing to very specific notions of God, such as Multmann’s “Crucified God” (which Polkinghorne says is crucial to his own Christian belief), or Murphy’s “theology of the cross,” or “divine kenosis.” Evolution does not drive those notions, which are driven more by the Holocaust or the Bible or Luther or Bonhoeffer than by biology. But, they are pretty useful for placing evolution in a larger theological framework. Since it is (as I say) the biologists who are confronted with this all the time, it is they (I believe) who are more likely to reject any God entirely. And, as they realize, ID and God can’t really be separated, despite loud claims to the contrary.

    Third, many scientists (of those that discuss design) would say that it’s in the physical sciences where design features are most evident, not in biology. This would also be my own answer. [Stephen keeps trying to pin me down on "evolution," but my answer is intentionally phrased in such a way as to put the emphasis on questions about the nature of nature: if you want to ask *me* about design, Stephen, you need to let me offer my own answer(s), not yours. It's fine to disagree with my opinion on this, but it's not fine to restrict a priori how I must answer your question.] It is that type of design inference that tends to avoid being explained by “Darwinian” mechanisms. In other words, Stephen (and others): you should be paying attention to what I’m saying, not trying to force me into your own box(es). I let you speak for yourself; you need to let me speak for myself. At least presently, there is no way to bypass the design questions in cosmology with a *genuinely scientific* multiverse theory–we can’t test any of them against observations; indeed, in principle, we won’t be able to do so. On this, see yet another physical scientist who believes in God (and also in the bodily resurrection, though it doesn’t come up in this article): http://www.scientificamerican......ally-exist.

  161. Finally, Stephen, I don’t need to “earn the right to be read,” as you put it @70. In your mind I do, apparently only b/c I won’t let you put your own words into my mouth. You see me as evasive, when I simply give my own answers to your questions. More to the point, Stephen, perhaps you need to be convinced that I must “earn the right to be heard,” when in fact I’ve already done that in spades. I know who you are, Stephen, not b/c anyone told me, but b/c you used your own name here many years ago, and I did the rest. You know all this. I’m not going to lift your veil, but I’m going to say that it is you, not me, who must “earn the right to be read,” when it comes to issues related to science and religion.

    You have no peer-reviewed publications about this; you’ve admitted that you don’t read those books about science & religion that don’t develop a harmony model (thus dismissing a substantial part of the literature); indeed, it’s not at all clear to me that you’ve read any important TE books at all (though perhaps you have), yet you pretend to know exactly what TE is all about; it’s evident that you don’t know anything about the development of some of the key notions in science and religion (most recently, the idea of quantum divine action), when understanding those things would sometimes enable you to avoid unsupportable claims. In short, Stephen, although you certainly know a lot about ID, you have *not* earned the right to pontificate about most other topics in science and religion. You haven’t done the hard work of trying to *understand* the views of people you don’t agree with; instead, you try to define their views for your readers on your own terms, in order to dismiss them or (worse) consign their authors to perdition by effectively calling them “atheists.” You simply don’t know what you’re talking about.

    This is frank, Stephen, I readily admit. It will probably strike some readers as an arrogant diatribe on my part; if so, I’ll have to accept that, but I hope they will consider the context and give me the benefit of the doubt.

  162. Ted Davis:

    Good to hear back from you.

    Your three points about physicists vs. biologists are interesting, and worth thinking about.

    On the first point, I’m inclined to agree entirely.

    On the second point, I think the basic observation is sound, and one I never really thought of. It is true that biology — because it concerns death and suffering — is the science most likely to connect with “the problem of evil.” I wonder, though, about some of the follow-up on that point.

    Granted, “kenosis” and the crucified God and other theological notions aren’t originally inspired by evolutionary theory; and granted, it would be theologically possible to interpret evolutionary theory in the light of such ideas; still, it remains a constant irritant that some TE/EC people who have spoken most loudly about the problem of evil in relation to evolution have spoken the most shallowly.

    Miller and Ayala have tried to argue that Darwinian evolution “solves” the problem of evil by keeping God at arm’s length from actual suffering; it’s not God personally, but an impersonal process of random mutation and natural selection, with the resultant “survival for the fittest,” which causes all the problems. So they try to vindicate God (which is what “theodicy” means) in light of Darwinian biology, and also, conversely, try to curry theological favor for Darwinian biology because of its helpfulness regarding the problem of evil.

    The difficulty is that this argument is bad sophomore reasoning that would result in a “C” or “D” essay grade; God’s hands can’t be kept clean by interposing, between him and the suffering individuals, a process of impersonal evolution — not when he is by definition omnipotent and omniscient and knew to the last detail all the suffering evolution would cause. When TE proponents say things like this, they lose all credibility as theologians.

    One thing that might help relations between TE and ID (and between TE and other positions — YEC and OEC) would be for the deeper to TEs to occasionally publically criticize the shallower TEs. For example, if you and Russell and Polkinghorne were to stand up and say that Miller and Ayala’s argument is lousy, both logically and theologically, and that it is their private opinion alone, not the view of TE as such, this would draw attention to the fact that TE is not a monolithic reality, but a loose aggregation of individuals, some of whom are considerably more careful in their thinking than others. But the tendency I have noticed — on Biologos and elsewhere — is that where a bunch of TEs are arguing with a bunch of ID people, or with a bunch of creationists, they never air any internal disagreements; they all advance their various theological arguments (whether compatible with each other or not) against the ID/creationist people, and the silence about differences seems, to ID/creationist people, to imply that all the TEs endorse all the theological statements of all the other TEs.

    So we get a Reformed critique of ID from maybe Haarsma and an Arminian critique from maybe Falk, and the fact that these two perspectives are incompatible is simply passed over. Or we get a critique of ID or creationism from a TE who affirms all the New Testament miracles, and some of the Old Testament miracles, and in the same debate we get a critique of ID or creationism from a Biblical scholar who gives every indication that he’s uncomfortable with any miracles at all, and refuses to answer a single question about them in plain, unambiguous English. And nothing ever gets said about the incompatibility of these two TEs’ attitudes toward Scripture — not by the other TEs in the room, anyway.

    Now if the primary goal of TEs is not to publically humiliate ID people (which, up until Darrel’s recent constructive dialogue with Dembski, certainly appeared to be a major goal of BioLogos), but to distinguish truth from falsehood in Christian theology, then we would expect to see open and honest disagreements among TEs, even when ID people are in the room. We’d expect to hear, for example: “Now wait a minute now, I agree that ID has its theological weaknesses, but its emphasis on God’s governance of nature is not one of them. In fact, I prefer the ID people’s emphasis on God’s sovereignty and governance to your Arminian-inspired attempt to liberate nature from God’s control.” Or: “Hold on, Pete; I agree with you about the literary genre of Genesis 2-3, but not about the Gospels. I take the statement that Jesus walked on the water as biographical. Why are you equivocating on whether or not the event happened?” But we never see this kind of mutual admonishment and correction among the TEs. Why don’t we?

    On your third point, I agree with your description, i.e., that many TEs are persuaded by design arguments in physics but not in biology. The question is whether this discrimination is rational and sustainable. Certainly, at least on the surface, the appearance of design in biology is infinitely *greater* than the appearance of design in physics. We only “see” the “fine-tuning” of the universe after having made very delicate measurements of constants, laws, atomic sizes, etc., and after employing some sophisticated reasoning to get to a design inference; but living things — they simply look designed. They look designed at the macro-level that everyone can see; the elbow allows the arm to act like a lever, the embryonic development system seems plainly end-driven, etc.; and they look designed even more at the sub-cellular level; with every new discovery, layer upon layer of interactive parts, control mechanisms, etc. are unearthed. How are the biologists to explain these tightly integrated biological systems, where thousands of parts, acting in precise co-ordination, are necessary for a functioning system? By pathetic devices such as: “Well, maybe in times of drought a giraffe who would reach a couple of inches higher …” That is 19th-century science (more like 19th-century economics, which is where Darwin got the idea). We are in the 21st century. Such crude incremental models of evolution simply cannot be taken seriously any longer. We know too much about the interlocking biochemical systems which constitute living things. We have to be able to explain how these living things are built, if there is no design guiding the construction. And nobody knows how it could be done.

    Thus, I think the dividing line between physics and biology on the question of design is arbitrary. Again, I would recommend anyone who thinks otherwise to read Denton’s book, *Nature’s Destiny*. Nature is a seamless whole, and is shot through with design. And it would of course be logically senseless for God to leave nothing to chance when it came to the force of gravity, the heat of the sun, and the amount of water on the earth, but then leave the question whether or not man would emerge to a genomic and environmental crap shoot.

  163. Ted, you may not realize it, but your entire mode of argument is based on your own claims to authority and your subtle, though pathetic, attacks on your adversary’s credibility..I understand why you feel the need to do that. When I refute TE nonsense, which is not a particularly daunting task, or when I ask you a hard question, you typically respond by dropping a few names and recounting how many books you have read on the subject. I have never known you to engage anyone in a rigorous, substantive dialogue. You just send that person to a link, tell them to do more reading, and head for the tall grass.

    On a personal level, you have, for quite a long time, sought to attack my credibility as a means of avoiding argument, I interpret your level of desperation as a compliment and I can sympathize with your frustrations. Since you can provide no rational defense for your position, you change the subject and start obsessing over reading lists–as if you are the final authority about which books should be read–as if I couldn’t put you to the same kind of test with my own reading list. It is all a game and I recognize it for what it is. I am trained to recognize games.

    What you apparently don’t understand, Ted, is that one important purpose for reading these offerings is to absorb them and make them a permanent part of your intellectual repertoire so that you can enter into a meaningful debate–not to simply make a public display of your bibliographical references. Since you have raised the issue, though, here is my response: I will put the quality quantity, and relevance of my reading list against your reading list any day.

    With respect to my credentials, I am trained in the philosophy of religion at the the graduate level and I also hold a graduate degree in applied communication with a 4.0 average. Indeed, my Master’s Thesis, as judged by my peers, qualifies as a book. Since ID is an information-based enterprise, and since Theistic Evolution is directly associated with the philosophy of religion and its interface with science, I am qualified to comment on both subjects. That I don’t constantly wield my credentials, as you do, doesn’t mean that I don’t have them. Accordingly, I am not intimidated by anyone who seeks to invalidate my comments by alluding to the fact that I use a psuedoname or that I am vulnerable to being “outed.”. It’s just more of the same kind of gamesmanship. Such tactics might work with others, but they don’t work with me.

    Enter into the fray–if you dare–that is, if your reading list has equipped you for meaningful dialogue. I have my doubts. One thing I learned a long time ago. When a man cannot summarize an argument in such a way that a twelve-year-old can understand it, he doesn’t understand it himself.

  164. I wrote: “I would be more interested in your arguments explaining how the light beam from a star reputed to be a billion light years away is, in fact, only a few thousand years old.”

    –tjguy: “About starlight, I would suggest reading this article on CMI’s website: “How can distant starlight reach us in just 6,000 years?” At least it will introduce you to two possible answers to this question from a YEC perspective. I will post some of the reasons I believe Genesis should be taken literally in my next post.”

    I have answered your questions without sending you on a reading assignment. Please provide me the same courtesy. If the argument makes sense, it can be summarized. While you are providing your summary, explain why you think the stars in question are “distant.” If the universe is only a few thousand years old, then the stars should not be all that far away, unless you think time and distance are not related. If, however, the second point becomes unduly clumsy, ignore it and focus on the first point.

    I wrote: “Oh yes, and tell me why you do not accept Jesus’ statements that “the Father causes the sun to rise” and why you choose to accept the alternate explanation by scientists to the effect that the earth revolves around the sun.”

    –”I think I already addressed that. Please go back and read what I wrote and if you have questions, come back again to the subject.”

    You did not address it at all. I addressed it by saying that, when Jesus said that “the Father causes the sun to rise,” He was consciously using phenomenological and picturesque language in keeping with the common experience of his audience. Do you agree with my assessment? If so, then why do you, as a Biblical literalist, accept science’s testimony that the earth revolves around the sun and reject Jesus plain language to the effect that “the sun rises.”

  165. Timaeus @162: I share you low view of the theodicies put forth by Miller and Ayala. I don’t regard either of them as a serious TE thinker, though I take both of them very seriously as scientists.

  166. Stephen: I haven’t questioned your academic credentials, per se; remember, I know who you are, so I know about your degrees. Just for the record, I don’t question your intelligence, either.

    What I question is your qualifications to write with apparent authority about a topic (TE) on which you by your own admission you have done very limited reading. You’re right, Stephen, it’s about bibliography: if you haven’t read most of the relevant sources, it’s hard for me to take your conclusions seriously. If someone came here and offered global conclusions about ID, without having read any books by Dembski, Johnson, Wells, Behe, Denton, or Meyer, I have no doubt you would say that he or she doesn’t know enough about ID to have an opinion worth defending. And, you’d be right.

    It will be many years, Stephen, before I have the kind of time that you seem to have to devote to blogging. I’m sure you know this. I gather that you are probably retired, but I have a day job. You will have this advantage on me for a long time, and there is nothing I can do about that. You will see this simply as ducking your questions and arguments. However, when I do provide a clean and relatively brief summary of my thought about science and religion, including TE, @64, you don’t listen to it and engage any of my ideas; rather, you reply by saying that I haven’t earned the right to be heard.

    Well, Stephen I can’t make decisions for you about what’s worth reading and what isn’t. I was responding to this: “Truths provided by God through his Divine revelation are consistent with truths apprehended through God’s revelation in nature. Faith and reason are perfectly compatible. TEs do not believe this, to their discredit.” This only confirms for me that either you’ve never read someone like Polkinghorne, or you didn’t understand what you read. And, if you don’t bother to listen to my interview, you’re not going to understand me, either. You have every right not even to *try* to understand me, Polkinghorne, or any other thinker. We all have that right. But, you don’t have the right to make broad pronouncements about a topic that you don’t try to understand; bibliography counts. I know you don’t agree with this, Stephen, but you aren’t the only reader here. Let each reader evaluate my point for herself.

  167. I have no more comments for Stephen, since he isn’t interested in understanding my ideas; for others, however, let me point to a review I did of one of Polkinghorne’s recent books, a review that can be read in just a few minutes:
    http://www.firstthings.com/ont.....lkinghorne

    I find Polkinghorne’s views impossible to square with Stephen’s claim that “Faith and reason are perfectly compatible. TEs do not believe this, to their discredit.” Dear reader: do the experiment; read the review; recognize that Polkinghorne is arguably the most important TE of his generation, and draw your own conclusions.

  168. 168

    Timmy,

    If Denton accepts the fine-tuning argument then he’s automatically an ID theorist. Fine-tuning is a specified complexity argument. Of course, most TEs accept fine-tuning but claim they are not ID theorists because for some reason they think it’s valid logic when applied to problems in physics but not in biology. Intelligent design applies the specified complexity logic to everything, seeing it as a generally valid argument for design. Plenty of people accept it for certain things, like fine-tuning, but not for others. This is probably the source of the friction between Denton and most IDers.

  169. 169

    lol. Great timing. I see you, Tim, were just discussing that.

  170. Timaeus @167: “But we never see this kind of mutual admonishment and correction among the TEs. Why don’t we?”

    I have the impression, Timeaus, that you are generally more familiar with TE literature than Stephen is. If so, there is still quite a bit you should read, for TEs disagree with one another all the time. Of dozens of examples, I’ll cite just two very good ones.

    (1) This book by Polkinghorne, which he distinguishes his views on God, nature, and Bible quite clearly from those of Arthur Peacocke and Ian Barbour: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obi.....starcourse
    I’m not sure if this is exactly the kind of thing you have in mind, Timeaus, but I think it may be.

    One of the things that Polkinghorne does often is to look over both shoulders as he writes. He distances himself on the one hand from Peacocke’s panentheism (although Polkinghorne believes that the new heaven and earth will be “all within God,” this world is not) and Barbour’s process theism (I’m constantly amazed when Polkinghorne is said casually to be a process theist); and, on the other hand, from those who believe that we need not re-think any of the traditional Christian conceptions of things. He’s right squarely in the middle.

    Or, borrow a copy of this one: http://www.amazon.com/Belief-S.....0300099495 and use the index to locate places where he distances himself from Peacocke and Barbour.

    (2) This whole set of books, in which TEs from many different disciplines argue about different conceptions of divine action: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S.....ine_Action

  171. –Ted Davis: “What I question is your qualifications to write with apparent authority about a topic (TE) on which you by your own admission you have done very limited reading.”

    That is an outright false statement. I have never admitted any such thing. You chose one author out of hundreds, perhaps thousands, and declared that because I had merely read a good number of his articles and none of his books, that I am not qualified to “pontificate” about TE. Do you really expect to get away with that? If you return, I have a few questions about your reading list.

    –”You’re right, Stephen, it’s about bibliography: if you haven’t read most of the relevant sources, it’s hard for me to take your conclusions seriously.”

    Again, you are confused. I have read most of the “relevant” sources even by your arbitrary standards, including a good number of authors that you would do well to consult. What you don’t understand, Ted, is that it is more important to establish credibility by advancing and defending rational arguments than to simply make empty claims about being well read.

    –”If someone came here and offered global conclusions about ID, without having read any books by Dembski, Johnson, Wells, Behe, Denton, or Meyer, I have no doubt you would say that he or she doesn’t know enough about ID to have an opinion worth defending. And, you’d be right.”

    I would approach them the same way I approach you on the subject of Theistic Evolution. I would reduce the subject matter to its simplest essence and ask them three or four questions to test their competence. I have already done that with you, by the way, and you didn’t pass the test.

    –”It will be many years, Stephen, before I have the kind of time that you seem to have to devote to blogging. I’m sure you know this. I gather that you are probably retired, but I have a day job.”

    I am, one gathers, taking advantage of Ted even though he started this party. Remarkable!

    –”You will have this advantage on me for a long time, and there is nothing I can do about that. You will see this simply as ducking your questions and arguments.”

    Please stop with the sour grapes. If you don’t have time to debate me, then you should not start a debate with me.

    –”However, when I do provide a clean and relatively brief summary of my thought about science and religion, including TE, @64, you don’t listen to it and engage any of my ideas; rather, you reply by saying that I haven’t earned the right to be heard.”

    It would have taken you far less time to simply answer my question rather than to conceive multiple reasons for evading it. The problem is not just that you will not address the question, but also that you do not understand its significance.

    —”Well, Stephen I can’t make decisions for you about what’s worth reading and what isn’t. I was responding to this: “Truths provided by God through his Divine revelation are consistent with truths apprehended through God’s revelation in nature. Faith and reason are perfectly compatible. TEs do not believe this, to their discredit.”
    This only confirms for me that either you’ve never read someone like Polkinghorne, or you didn’t understand what you read. And, if you don’t bother to listen to my interview, you’re not going to understand me, either. You have every right not even to *try* to understand me, Polkinghorne, or any other thinker. We all have that right.”

    The issue, dear Ted, is not whether they SAY that faith and reason are compatible, but whether a fair analysis of their readings confirms that their main arguments are aligned with that claim. If Polkinghorne’s Christian faith is perfectly compatible with his science, then why does he deny God’s omniscience. If Russell’s Christian faith is perfectly compatible with his science, why does he say that Theology and science “are often in conflict?”

    –”But, you don’t have the right to make broad pronouncements about a topic that you don’t try to understand; bibliography counts. I know you don’t agree with this, Stephen, but you aren’t the only reader here. Let each reader evaluate my point for herself.”

    If TEs are intellectually inconsistent and conflicted, and most of them are, I have a perfect right to say so. If TEs cannot withstand scrutiny, and they clearly cannot, then they don’t deserve to be believed.

    –”I have no more comments for Stephen, since he isn’t interested in understanding my ideas; for others, however, let me point to a review I did of one of Polkinghorne’s recent books, a review that can be read in just a few minutes:
    http://www.firstthings.com/ont…..lkinghorne”

    I am interested in knowing if you can DEFEND your ideas.

    —”I find Polkinghorne’s views impossible to square with Stephen’s claim that “Faith and reason are perfectly compatible. TEs do not believe this, to their discredit.” Dear reader: do the experiment; read the review; recognize that Polkinghorne is arguably the most important TE of his generation, and draw your own conclusions.”

    I think you just said that and I answered your point. Repetition does not help your case. I, too, invite readers to draw their own conclusions based on the willingness of each parties to submit his respective ideas to scrutiny and answer all challenges.

  172. ..willingness of each [party} to submit his ideas to scrutiny and answer challenges.

  173. 173

    Stephen, this goes for me and probably for Ted as well:

    Faith and reason are not in conflict. Various people who claim to speak for both, theologians and scientists, respectively, are. These two statements are not contradictory.

  174. Thank you, Ted.

    All right, so TEs from time to time disagree with each other in books. But I had in mind live conversations, where the TEs are in the room with each other, or on the internet talk group with each other, and where ID and or YEC people are present. I’ve never seen a TE take issue with another TE in such a situation. Not on Biologos, or the old ASA-list, etc. The moment an ID person is present, the ID person is “all wrong” and the TEs clasp hands, going silent about their theological differences.

    And look at the examples you have given. Barbour — professor of the history/philosophy of science — debating with Polkinghorne — former Oxford physicist still well-connected with the academic world. You don’t have Polkinghorne arguing with Miller, do you? Or Barbour arguing with Giberson? Or Gingerich arguing with Venema? Or Russell chastising Matheson for the sarcasm and vulgarity of some of the comments on his blog? The two groups of TEs — the serious academic physicist-astronomers and the amorphous cluster of life scientists and liberal preachers and undergrads and housewives who write the columns at BioLogos — hardly talk to each other. There is almost as little inter-communication between the two groups as there is between Michael Denton and Al Mohler.

    In fact, the only consistent link I can think of between the two groups, Ted, is you yourself. You are like the narrow Silk Road which in ancient times made the slim connection between the two worlds, East and West, sealed off from each other by great mountain ranges. Without you, TE wouldn’t be a unity at all. It would be two separate communities, the internet-centered world of BioLogos, with its army of former fundamentalists-turned-TEs, of former Darwin-haters-turned-Darwin-worshippers, of bench biologists resentful of criticism of the venerable names and theories of their discipline, of people more interested in personal testimonials about “the faith of a scientist” than in post-graduate level theology and science discussion, and on the other hand, the book-centered, university-centered world of the serious TEs you are urging us all to pay attention to. And the question is why the two groups have so little to do with one another, and why you have the lonely task of bringing them together. Was TE once a unity that had a “Fall” and became fragmented? Or was it never a unity in the first place, but rather, a set of parallel developments, as various Christians, for various reasons, found a need to talk about evolution and Christian theology? And either way, what is your strategy for bringing all the TE groups together into a coherent body of thought about science and creation?

  175. For StephenB @164

    OK, here is a short summary of the distant starlight theory. I am not a cosmologist or an astronomer so I cannot explain it very well to you I’m afraid. Dr. John Hartnett is the man who devised this model. It involves time dilation, an assumption that our galaxy is close to the center of a finite universe (Big Bang assumes no center and no boundary to the universe), and a reliance on the Scriptural passages that tell us that God stretched out the heavens. In this model, it is assumed that this expansion from normal size to current size took place during day four of creation when God created the sun, moon, and stars. It involves 5 dimensions – the normal dimensions of space, a time dimension, and time, and the velocity of the expansion of the cosmos. Genesis is written from the vantage point of the earth. While God created the stars and expanded the universe on day four, 24 hours passed on earth, but because of time dilation due to the speed of the expansion of space as God stretched it out. Clocks on earth which would be close to the center ran very slowly compared to the clocks in the expanding universe. This would mean that there was plenty of time from the distant stars to reach the earth because the clocks were magnitudes of times faster than the clocks on earth. This model does need some direct supernatural intervention, but that is what the Bible teaches – God created the heavens and the earth. He did different things on each day of the week. It doesn’t need to appeal to any dark matter, dark energy, or other fudge factors that are necessary to support the Big Bang. Hartnett uses the theory of special relativity – the effect of motion on time – that was developed by Dr. Moshe Carmeli. But Hartnett takes the theory a step further than Carmeli and applies it to the cosmos/universe as well.

    While you are providing your summary, explain why you think the stars in question are “distant.” If the universe is only a few thousand years old, then the stars should not be all that far away, unless you think time and distance are not related.

    The stars are distant because God stretched out the heavens. I think the explanation of Hartnett’s model answers that question.

    “Oh yes, and tell me why you do not accept Jesus’ statements that “the Father causes the sun to rise” and why you choose to accept the alternate explanation by scientists to the effect that the earth revolves around the sun.”
    … when Jesus said that “the Father causes the sun to rise,” He was consciously using phenomenological and picturesque language in keeping with the common experience of his audience. Do you agree with my assessment? If so, then why do you, as a Biblical literalist, accept science’s testimony that the earth revolves around the sun and reject Jesus plain language to the effect that “the sun rises.”

    Oh, you are right. I’m sorry. I wrote up an answer and somehow must not have sent it. I agree with you that Jesus is using phenomenological language as we also commonly do today. Even scientists speak of this type of thing, so we are agreed that it is not a scientific mistake here. This passage is not really disputed. We all realize how Jesus is speaking.

    Anyway, the context here does not really give us any clues as to whether to take it literally or not and that is very different than Genesis 1.

    Plus, unlike Genesis, there are not any other Scriptures either that really give us much of a clue. So we need some outside help. Science can help us here in a definitive way. Why? Because we can use regular operational science to verify the heliocentric system with our own eyes. It is not unverifiable historical science that is trying to figure out the distant past that only God has observed and written about.

    Whether we take Jesus’ words literally in a scientific sense or not, the meaning of what Jesus is saying does not change. Plus, the point of the passage is to speak about

    However, how we choose to interpret the meaning of the text of Genesis has huge implications for biblical interpretation all through the Bible where Genesis is quoted are huge. In Matthew, we have just one short statement, the purpose of which is to make a totally different point about the goodness of God. Wouldn’t you say that is clear from the text?

    However, in Genesis, we have whole chapters to deal with. The context does give us some very specific hints and guidelines as do other inspired biblical writers who refer to Genesis.

    In Matthew, from a biblical perspective, I wouldn’t have a problem with either interpretation – heliocentric or geocentric – if we had to rely on historical science to help us out. But since we can use real science here, it clearly rules out the geocentric interpretation.

    But with your interpretation method of Genesis, you have to figure out arbitrarily what the author’s intention was. You do that by deciding which words/sentences you take literally and which ones you do not. My guess is that your views of scientific “truth” influence this decision making process of yours. This is very dangerous when it comes to biblical interpretation. First you said there was only one intention. Then you said there could have been others. But how we know any of this is totally subjective so it becomes more opinion than fact to me. How many things did He intend to say? How do we know? Is it all arbitrary?

    To do that kind of a dissection on Genesis, where some of it you believe in a literal way and much of it you basically reject the plain meaning of the words, makes you wonder why God even bothered to put in the irrelevant sections in the Bible in the first place. If you can’t take the plain meaning of the words as the meaning of the passage, how do you know that you can take any of it literally?

    I will post the textual reasons I have for taking the plain meaning of the words as the intended meaning of the author. For me, this is the most important evidence of all because I start with what God’s Word says. I just misplaced that file and have to find it first.

    By they way, are you going to interact with my other posts 157, 158, & the first part of 159?

  176. Stephen @171:

    The reason I often point to other sources, when the ideas they present are not my own (i.e., I didn’t create those ideas, I simply report them and either offer support or dissent), is simple: ideas are best conveyed by those who created them. My main concern, relative to our conversation here, is the accuracy of your observations about some of those ideas. As a philosophy student, you might well agree that there is no substitute for reading Descartes, no substitute for reading Hume. If you want to engage Polkinghorne, you can do so by commenting on some subset of his ideas, as found in his own writings; ditto for Russell; ditto for anyone else, as you’ve already done here with Barr. I’m not going to *debate* you about a set of ideas I didn’t create. Philosophers like to do that, as you know, but I’m not a philosopher.

    But, I *did* answer your question. I’ve answered it before. You don’t like my answer; I’m fine with that but I wasn’t evasive in the least.

    The ideas I create and advance myself are historical, Stephen. *They* are the ideas I am always willing to debate. I know them, I’m invested in them, and I’m fully capable of defending them against all comers. I usually present them and defend them in historical quarters, though occasionally I make historically-based commentaries on contemporary issues in other quarters. I’m sure this is evident to you, if you’ve read any of my work.

    If you want to debate any of *my* ideas, I’d be very happy to do so as far as available time allows. Please take my invitation to listen to the interview. If necessary, I’ll try to provide an abstract, but there’s no substitute for listening to the interview itself. Let me know if you’d like to pursue this, and I’ll do my best to make time for it.

  177. For StephenB

    Sorry, that last post was a bit mistake riddled. Let me try again.

    OK, I am not a cosmologist or an astronomer so I cannot explain it very well to you I’m afraid. Dr. John Hartnett is the man who devised this model. It involves time dilation, an assumption that our galaxy is close to the center of a finite universe (Big Bang arbitrarily assumes no center and no boundary to the universe to make it work), and a reliance on the Scriptural passages that tell us that God stretched out the heavens. In this model, it is assumed that this expansion of the universe from it’s original created size to the current size took place during Day 4 of creation when God created the sun, moon, and stars. It involves 5 dimensions – the normal dimensions of space, a time dimension, and the 5th dimension is the velocity of the expansion of the cosmos. Genesis is written from the vantage point of the earth. While God created the stars and expanded the universe on day 4, 24 hours passed on earth, but because of time dilation due to the speed of the expansion of space as God stretched it out, time passed super quickly the further out into space you got. So while clocks on earth which would be close to the center of the universe ran very slowly, clocks in the expanding universe would have been racing. This would mean that there was plenty of time from the distant stars to reach the earth because the light years measured out there in the extremes of space passed much faster that time on earth. This model does need some direct supernatural intervention, but that is what the Bible teaches – God intervened in time and space and created the heavens and the earth in 6 days. This theory has no need to appeal to any dark matter, dark energy, or other fudge factors that are necessary to support the Big Bang. Hartnett uses the theory of special relativity – the effect of motion on time – that was developed by Dr. Moshe Carmeli, but he takes the theory a step further than Carmeli and applies it to the cosmos/universe as well. Sorry for the sloppy post.

  178. –”Ted: ” The reason I often point to other sources, when the ideas they present are not my own (i.e., I didn’t create those ideas, I simply report them and either offer support or dissent), is simple: ideas are best conveyed by those who created them. My main concern, relative to our conversation here, is the accuracy of your observations about some of those ideas. As a philosophy student, you might well agree that there is no substitute for reading Descartes, no substitute for reading Hume. If you want to engage Polkinghorne, you can do so by commenting on some subset of his ideas, as found in his own writings; ditto for Russell; ditto for anyone else, as you’ve already done here with Barr. I’m not going to *debate* you about a set of ideas I didn’t create. Philosophers like to do that, as you know, but I’m not a philosopher.”

    Ted, I will certainly second your proposition that alluding to multiple sources is a good intellectual exercise. I read a lot of books and so do you. I think about things and so do you. Without these resources, we could not broaden ourselves, test our biases, or fine-tune (dare I say, even change) our opinions. While there is, I am sure, an impressive overlap for heavy readers in the sense that many have experienced some of the same authors, each reader will be attracted to, and spend more time with, the ones who personally edify him and bring him closer to what he perceives to be the truth. Even so, the best among us will also read authors who oppose our viewpoints, an exercise in self control for which there is no substitute. I look forward to the day when TEs and ID proponents can sit down and discuss all the issues honestly and in a spirit of friendliness and mutual respect. Perhaps it is also possible with you and me. I will never despair of that prospect.

    –”But, I *did* answer your question. I’ve answered it before. You don’t like my answer; I’m fine with that but I wasn’t evasive in the least.”

    I will not press the matter any further because it serves no purpose. The reason I phrased the question the way I did was so that we could use common terms to summarize and provide balance to a key intellectual conflict. My experience with TEs is that, when describing their ideas, they change the meanings of words in places where consistency is essential and they use ambiguous language in other places where clarity is essential. This process, which may be unconscious, tends to camouflage the presence of mutually incompatible ideas. So, when I ask, “Is evolution a teleological process or a non-teleological process,” the TEs I have encountered simply will not answer on those terms because, one gathers, they prefer not to admit in public that, for them, the answer is— “both.” So, they just rephrase the question in a new language that promises to extricate them from their dilemma.

    –”The ideas I create and advance myself are historical, Stephen. *They* are the ideas I am always willing to debate. I know them, I’m invested in them, and I’m fully capable of defending them against all comers. I usually present them and defend them in historical quarters, though occasionally I make historically-based commentaries on contemporary issues in other quarters. I’m sure this is evident to you, if you’ve read any of my work.”

    I have. I consider you to be a talented writer.

    –”If you want to debate any of *my* ideas, I’d be very happy to do so as far as available time allows. Please take my invitation to listen to the interview. If necessary, I’ll try to provide an abstract, but there’s no substitute for listening to the interview itself. Let me know if you’d like to pursue this, and I’ll do my best to make time for it.”

    When I find the time, soon I hope, I will make a disciplined effort to listen to the interview and consider it with an open, minded, non-competitive attitude. In the meantime, I may also try to continue my dialogue with the YECs, but I don’t know for how much longer. Duty calls for me as well.

    Peace!

  179. Timaeus @174: “All right, so TEs from time to time disagree with each other in books. But I had in mind live conversations, where the TEs are in the room with each other, or on the internet talk group with each other, and where ID and or YEC people are present….”

    I’m sorry that I didn’t give the kind of answer you were thinking of, Timaeus; I interpreted your question incorrectly. The kinds of conversations you have in mind (as you spell out here) just don’t happen on the internet; or, if they do, I’d love to have someone show me where to look. Nor do they happen on the internet, even if you leave out the part about ID or YEC people being present. Polkinghorne doesn’t even have an email address; Russell never blogs; Barbour is no longer active, although he’s still living.

    I’ve witnessed several very lively conversations in “old fashioned” (non-electronic) venues, and some of them included ID people and even YEC people, though for the most part they involved either TE people alone or TE people in conversation with secular scientists and scholars, at least some of them atheists. I contributed something myself to one of those conversations, after the fact, by giving my take on it in “Appreciating a Scientist-Theologian: Some Remarks on the Work of John Polkinghorne.” Zygon 35.4 (December 2000), 971-6. Even this is not publicly available, unfortunately, but I’ll provide the abstract:
    ****
    Perhaps the greatest irony about the contemporary religion/science dialogue is the fact that, despite their own strongly articulated denials, many thinkers implicitly accept the “warfare” thesis of A.D. White–that is, they agree with White that traditional theology has proved unable to engage science in fruitful conversation. More than most others, John Polkinghorne understands just how badly White misread the history of Christianity and science, and how much theology has been impoverished by its failure to challenge this core assumption of modernity.
    ****
    Anyone who wants to read the essay but cannot access it in paper or electronic form is invited to contact me: tdavis at messiah dot edu.

    Your characterization of me a sort of “silk road” is flattering and somewhat humorous, but I see the serious point behind it. As I said before, TE theory is done at an academic level, not a popular level. This is indeed related to the absence of interactive, publicly visible conversations among TEs. I suspect that in most academic fields that are not related in some way to politics or government, such conversations would be pretty rare.

    Finally I’ll say something about this: “TE once a unity that had a “Fall” and became fragmented? Or was it never a unity in the first place, but rather, a set of parallel developments, as various Christians, for various reasons, found a need to talk about evolution and Christian theology? And either way, what is your strategy for bringing all the TE groups together into a coherent body of thought about science and creation?”

    As I’ve tried to say in many places, TE is as much of a “big tent” as ID is, except I that I don’t see atheists or agnostics thinking about it in ways analogous to David Berlinski’s relationship with ID (which is surely ambiguous in any case). There is no one strand and never really has been. I can’t imagine TE ever forming “a coherent body of thought” as you put it, although I’ve sometimes offered a simple but very flexible definition that I believe is historically accurate. There simply is no such thing as TE, per se; there are simply many discrete forms of it. That’s one reason that most generalizations are going to be fraught with difficulties.

  180. Stephen: @178

    I’m very glad that you will consider my invitation to dialogue about my own ideas. If time won’t allow that to happen properly, I’m in no position to complain. I am also about to turn to other things and sign off this thread. If you want to talk about the interview, in this thread or somewhere else, please alert me to it off-line (I think you have my address but I gave it anyway @179) so that I will be sure to take part.

    Your @178 must have come in as I was typing @179, since I didn’t see it before I sent it in. My final paragraph in @179 pertains to something you said @171: “I would approach them [hypothetical persons who are not well informed about ID] the same way I approach you on the subject of Theistic Evolution. I would reduce the subject matter to its simplest essence and ask them three or four questions to test their competence. I have already done that with you, by the way, and you didn’t pass the test.”

    If you compare your approach as you’ve explained it, Stephen, to my view of the complexity of the situation as I expressed it in the last paragraph @179, then perhaps everyone will understand more fully why we differ so greatly. Awhile back crossed swords on something similar, but unrelated to evolution, when we differed in our analyses of Rodney Stark’s chapter on science in http://www.amazon.com/For-Glor.....0691114366. I’m not interested in reprising all of that; I want simply to connect those dots to give readers a better sense of my approach, and–hopefully–in a way that is not unfair to your position. In short, I’m suspicious of “simplest essence” in both instances, whereas you thrive on identifying them. Is this fair?

    Peace.

  181. Two final comments for Stephen @171, not to engage in combat but to seek further understanding.

    (1) SB: “If Polkinghorne’s Christian faith is perfectly compatible with his science, then why does he deny God’s omniscience.”

    Polkinghorne’s open theism is not a consequence of his TE position. Rather, he believes that for other reasons, including theodicy, and then brings it to his interpretation of evolution. A relevant passage from “Belief in God in An Age of Science”: “It is clear that the God of temporal process is the more vulnerable in relation to creation than is the atemporal God of classical theism. The converse of that is that it seems that the atemporal God presents greater difficulties for theodicy than does the God of temporality. The discords in the score are simply there in the former case, rather than arising from the uncertain clashes of contingent process.” (p. 74)

    I don’t want to start a separate argument about open theism; I’m not here to defend Polkinghorne, simply to explain that (for him) open theism is a theological commitment that does not arise from accepting evolution, and there is no necessary connection. Indeed, relating this to Timaeus @174, this is one of the points on which Polkinghorne and Russell have strongly differed, especially in those private parties that I spoke about. Russell is not an open theist. At this point in time, however, they would both probably say that the best approach to theodicy is to emphasize eschatology–a theology of hope, based on the reality of the bodily Resurrection of the crucified One. Nothing could be more orthodox than that, IMO. This, too, influences the specific forms of TE for which they argue, but (again) the theology drives the interpretation rather than the other way around.

    As a relevant aside, my colleague Robin Collins is completing a terrific book about the design of the laws of nature. I don’t know whether Robin is considered a full-blown open theist, but he’s closer to that position than to the traditional view. Judging from questions I’m sometimes asked, there is a perception that open theism and TE are inextricably linked. Not so. Russell and Robin Collins are very significant counter-examples. Collins is often seen as pro-ID (and in some ways he is), Russell is always seen as a TE. People think in their *own* categories, and we need to be careful not to impose ours on them.

    (2) SB: “If Russell’s Christian faith is perfectly compatible with his science, why does he say that Theology and science ‘are often in conflict?’” I’d like to answer this one, Stephen, but I need more context. If you can provide a lengthier passage and the source, I would be grateful. I might say the same thing myself, if “Theology” and “science” are each defined in certain ways.

  182. Ted, three quick final (I hope) thoughts:

    [a] You say, “Polkinghorne’s open theism is not a consequence of his TE position.”

    You can certainly make a case for that proposition, though I think other motives are in play. Anyway, I did not argue that he compromises his faith because he is a TE, rather my argument, which still holds, is that, as a TE, he has compromised his faith, just as every TE I have ever read compromises his (her) faith. Usually, it is simply of case of subordinating classical Christianity to the provisional findings of science–never a good idea. Further, I have hinted at the reason: If they felt that reason and faith were in perfect accord, they would feel no need to redefine the Christian faith in order to afford the reconciliation.

    [b] On the subject of Robert Russell, you write: “I’d like to answer this one, Stephen, but I need more context. If you can provide a lengthier passage and the source, I would be grateful. I might say the same thing myself, if “Theology” and “science” are each defined in certain ways.”

    The context is obvious. As Russell says, “Science and religion are not always compatible. In fact, they may be in conflict. And I think that’s healthy. What we’re looking for is not compatibility. We’re looking for a mutually responsive partnership. In many partnerships there are disagreements. And you need to resolve the dispute somehow, and retain the partnership. That’s the key. And one way to do it is to know what’s worth arguing over, and what’s a squabble because you’re upset. So what’s a valid conflict and what isn’t?”

    One of his main themes is to emphasize the importance of dialogue between science and religion to compensate for this conflict-to communicate as a means of overcoming the problem. This is another example of a TE who doesn’t believe that faith and reason are perfectly compatible.

    [c] On the other hand, no TE has ever answered or even approached my challenge. Their problem of incoherence is, as far as I know, universal. As I pointed out, they cannot, in a rational way, articulate their conception of teleology vs. non-teleology with respect to evolution. Appealing to quantum indeterminancy does not, in any way, solve this problem. For them, the process is both teleological and non-teleological. If you ask them to affirm one explanation (end-directed) and negate the other (not end-directed), their response is reminiscent of the proverbial “deer in the headlights.” That is because they have never considered the implications of their position or subjected their ideas to rational scrutiny. Either the process is end-directed or it is not. To not understand this is to miss everything.

  183. tjguy, I apologize for the delay. I promised you an abbreviated account of Biblical Hermeneutic that justifies reconciling the Bible with “Big Bang” theory. I hope to do that soon. Meanwhile, I thank you for presenting your argument on behalf of the distant star/starlight syndrome. I will read it with care. Still, my duties are catching up with me, so it is getting more difficult to respond in a timely way.

  184. Ted Davis @ #179

    There simply is no such thing as TE, per se; there are simply many discrete forms of it. That’s one reason that most generalizations are going to be fraught with difficulties.

    Ted, it would be good to get that fact into the spotlight at BioLogos, where the general impression given is that it’s all done-and-dusted in favour of orthodox Neodarwinian evolution and various versions of theology united in rejecting historical orthodoxy.

    That would be fine except that (a) it’s pretty well the only “Big Name” TE organisation and (b) its stated mission is to sell the virtues of theistic evolution primarily to the Evangelical community. Yet, though I started my interest there as a TE and an Evangelical, and have written fir them, I often feel more on the margins that I do when I post here, amongst YECs, Catholics, Jews and Agnostics.

    Strange, huh?

  185. StephenB,

    No problem about taking your time. We are all busy. YECs don’t have everything solved yet either.

    I guess the main thing I am interested in hearing is how you reconcile the biblical teaching of a global flood with an old earth.

    You say that if uniformitarianism is falsified, that you might consider a young earth. I could say the same thing. Show that uniformitarianism is true and I will consider an old earth. Uniformitarianism is an assumption that scientists make when they interpret the geologic record. But there are huge problems with it and it cannot be proven either true or false in the scientific sense of the word. But I believe there is sufficient evidence to show that it is a mistaken paradigm.

    The flood shows that you cannot just assume uniformitarianism and expect to come up with an accurate understanding of the past. The flood destroys the evidence for an old earth as far as geology goes. It destroys the evidence for evolution as the fossils would be rather recent. It shows that most dating methods are way off when it comes to discerning the age of the rocks.

    James Hutton, the guy who is called the Founder of Modern Geology wrote this in 1785 before he began examining the evidence. It shows the worldview he used to interpret his findings and it explains how uniformitarianism was born.

    ‘the past history of our globe must be explained by what can be seen to be happening now … No powers are to be employed that are not natural to the globe, no action to be admitted except those of which we know the principle’

    This is an unbiblical assumption on which he arbitrarily based the whole framework of uniformitarianism. If he had been willing to consider the effects of a global flood, do you think he would have chosen this method of interpretation?

    I don’t think so. So I don’t really understand why you think that uniformitarianism has to be proven false. I’m more interested in whether or not you can prove that it is true. I would think that a simple cursory reading of God’s Word would show you that it is false. You have creation, which was not a uniformitarian process and then of course the global flood which would create havoc for geology.

    Problems with uniformitarianism:
    Polystrate fossils, Noah’s flood, thick coal beds like in the Powder River Valley Basin in Wyoming, water transported quartzite gravel, cobbles and boulders on the mountaintops, ridges plateaus and valleys of northwestern USA and southwest Canada that have been transported huge distances from their source, ultrahigh-pressure (UHP) minerals that are located in low pressure environments, the origin of chert and radiolarian chert, fast erosion rates, continental shelves(evidence for rapid sheet deposition along the edge of the continents as opposed to slow processes over millions of years), water and wind gaps, pediments, submarine canyons, etc.

    Massive erosion by the receding waters of the flood would leave behind huge planation surfaces, erosional remnants like Devils’ Rock, and boulders transported from great distances. The eroded sediments then formed the continental shelf as the water flowed off of the continents. Then valleys, canyons, wind and water gaps, pediments, and submarine canyons formed rapidly when the flow of the receding water became channelized. These features are worldwide supporting the idea of a global flood and refuting the idea of uniformitarianism.

    At any rate, it should be clear by now that belief in a global flood is not consistent with an old earth position. Old universe, perhaps, but not an old earth.

    So, again, I’m glad that you believe in a global flood like the Bible teaches, but then, I am interested in knowing how you can continue to believe that the earth is old. What evidence would you submit for that view? Most of that evidence will have been invalidated by the fact of a global flood.

  186. 186

    tjguy,

    I think one element you are missing from the time dilation theory is the proven fact, consistent with general relativity, that gravity affects time. Stronger gravitational forces slow down time. This has been demonstrated and is well-described by general relativity.

    This means that if the universe is finite and has a center, then that center would also be the center of gravity. Therefore with the expansion occurring, time would be very slow for the center and very fast for the outside due to general relativity and gravity concentrating at the center of mass of the universe.

  187. Thanks for pointing that out. I think you are right. I’m not all that familiar with the details of this theory, but just threw it out as a current idea that is being investigated. I’m sure there are still details that need to be worked on and things left unexplained, but I’m sure it has more explanatory power that the Big Bang itself.

  188. For Jon @184, where he said this: “Ted, it would be good to get that fact into the spotlight at BioLogos, where the general impression given is that it’s all done-and-dusted in favour of orthodox Neodarwinian evolution and various versions of theology united in rejecting historical orthodoxy.”

    Jon, one of the reasons I agree to write some columns for BL is to help broaden the conversation a bit. They want that, too, or they wouldn’t have asked me to do it.

    However, let me simply point out that I believe there *are* forms of TE that do not “reject historical orthodoxy,” and I don’t think that BL’s position amounts to that, whether or not my own views are part of that analysis. I look forward to hearing your views on this when I reach the TE position in my current series on “Science and Bible.” My 2-part column on the YEC view started this week: http://biologos.org/blog/scien.....ism-part-1. I should get to the TE view in 3-4 months, and a discussion of “orthodoxy” will be a central part of what I will be saying then.

    In the meantime, we’re starting a mini-series bringing some of Bob Russell’s views to a wider audience than the very narrow academic audience he usually writes for. Whether or not you and others here agree with him, I hope you’ll agree that he represents a serious form of TE that engages the issues in a very responsible way. The first two parts are now out: http://biologos.org/blog/the-god-who-acts-part-1
    and http://biologos.org/blog/the-god-who-acts-part-1.

    I’m glad you’ve read them already, Jon. I hope others do as well. His ideas constitute one (of many) orthodox form(s) of TE. IMO.

  189. Correction: that link to part 2 on Russell should be http://biologos.org/blog/the-god-who-acts-part-2

  190. For Stephen @182, where he wrote:

    The context is obvious. As Russell says, “Science and religion are not always compatible. In fact, they may be in conflict. And I think that’s healthy. What we’re looking for is not compatibility. We’re looking for a mutually responsive partnership. In many partnerships there are disagreements. And you need to resolve the dispute somehow, and retain the partnership. That’s the key. And one way to do it is to know what’s worth arguing over, and what’s a squabble because you’re upset. So what’s a valid conflict and what isn’t?”

    One of his main themes is to emphasize the importance of dialogue between science and religion to compensate for this conflict-to communicate as a means of overcoming the problem. This is another example of a TE who doesn’t believe that faith and reason are perfectly compatible.

    ***

    My comments as follows. This apparently comes from an interview of Russell at http://www.pbs.org/faithandrea.....frame.html

    Here is what Russell then says, elaborating on this: “You know, valid conflicts might be if a scientist really believes, for philosophical or scientific reasons, that a person is just a robot, or just matter in motion. There is nothing at all aesthetic or mental or affective about a person. Whereas, a religious person is committed to the notion that we’re a total person – that our thoughts and hopes count, as well as our somatic disposition, that we’re a psychosomatic entity. There’s a real conflict. But in a positive way, those are like two research programs that are competing. I think we should let the conflict continue, and see which one is more fruitful.”

    I suspect, Stephen, that in this instance you fully agree with Russell: that there is a genuine conflict between the view that people are robots and the Christian view that we are total persons. And, perhaps you also agree with Russell’s view that we should let this play out and find out which of these alternatives turns out to be more fruitful.

    If I am assuming too much about your views, Stephen, I’m sure you will correct me. But, I suspect you and Russell agree more than your comments @182 indicates.

  191. Ted @188
    I look forward to your TE review. I’m certainly aware there are many varieties of it, being one of them.

    And it’s certainly evident that your “broadening” agenda is succeeding, particularly with the in-depth look at Russell, which has prompted me to order the book (if only to see which parts of it leave me most out of my depth).

    One of the oddest things about the current sociological climate is that the advertised categories seriously overlap – if Russell self-identified as ID rather than TE it would change his public image, but be no less descriptive (he’d be called a Creationist by the Gnus anyway – as should any Christian who believes in creation).

    I maintain that the principle reason for the culture wars within the Christian community is the now-stated, now-ambiguous, but usually militant metaphysical underpinning of Darwinism. That pushing of the Enlightenment agenda (shades of my BioLogos Russell series comments) was, in my view, what polarised things so badly early last century, leading directly to the entrenchment of Creationism and all the complications since. It probably, given that, couldn’t develop in any other way.

    We had much less of that in the UK (though the warfare has been imported in recent decades), which is why it’s hard to comprehend the passions involved: over here we tended in my day to read a few books and make up our minds (and discuss it at Church over coffee).

  192. Ted,

    It is not (yet) clear to me that you ‘broaden the conversation’ at BioLogos, but that you ‘deepen’ it is obvious, given that you are a historian of (biological) sciences and that prior to your participation BioLogos had no historians working for them. If you were a philosopher of sciences (none of which are yet present at BioLogos), that would in my view constitute ‘broadening.’ It may be that I am being unfair with your assessment of what your contribution means there, but you have clarified in the past you are a historian and not a philosopher of (natural) sciences. Vertical and horizontal typically have different meanings.

    Let me refer you again to #120 in this thread. You appear to have made a peculiar agreement with Stephen C. Meyer, who promotes ‘historical sciences’. I still don’t understand why this is, other than if your guiding desire is to push back against USAmerican YEC views. Are you suggesting that your home field of ‘history’ *is* in fact (i.e. should be called) a ‘science’?

    A pause for breath seems needed after that. It’s a simple and basic question that will help people understand your position in this conversation, should you choose to answer it. Is ‘history’ a ‘science’?

    “I believe there *are* forms of TE that do not ‘reject historical orthodoxy’.” – Ted

    Can you please clarify up-front whether or not accepting a ‘real, historical Adam and Eve’ constitutes ‘historical orthodoxy? From my view, it does.

    After several years of contact with your views, Ted, it is still not clear to me what your position is on this topic. Lamoureux says directly and unapologetically ‘No Adam.’ G. Murphy doubts their reality shown by his ‘sin of origin’ piece. BioLogos lost many subscribers because it appeared to be anti-real, anti-historical Adam and Eve, while suggesting it could be the ‘new orthodoxy’. In recent months they seem to have back-tracked to a ‘no opinion’ position, whereas in the past your TE-apologetic words here at UD have seemed to be heterodox and not orthodox on this topic; you seem to disbelieve in real, historical Adam and Eve. What’s the truth in your words, Ted?

    Highlighting Russell is fine and good. Obviously he privileges ‘natural sciences’ even in the title of the organisation he founded – Theology and NATURAL Sciences. Thus, a bias in his views of ‘nature’ regarding ‘science’ is noteworthy, just as you make strong statements against YEC at BioLogos. This might symbolise a parallel with Protestants claiming to speak authoritatively about ‘orthodoxy’ in natural sciences, when there are other claims to what counts as ‘science/orthodoxy’ that do not fit within their chosen approach.

  193. Ted @140:

    I didn’t base my opinion of Russell on one interview. I have read some of his other works. He often contradicts himself. In response to a question about Simpson’s famous quote, ["evolution is a purposeless, mindless process that did not have man in mind"] Russell responds by saying, “From a scientific perspective, true; from a theological perspective, false.”. Only a confused mind could hold such a self-contradictory idea.

    However, I need not go beyond the interview in question to demonstrate these kinds of inconsistencies. Even in the follow up quote you cite, he confuses legitimate science with illegitimate science. Certainly, I would agree that there is a conflict between Christianity and the unwarraned, unscientific claim, that humans are robots, just as I would agree that there is a conflict between Christianity and the unwarranted, unscientific claim that humans have no free will. There is, however, no conflict between Christianity and reasonable attempts to formulate provisional scientific conclusions, nor could there ever be in a rational universe.

    For Russell, and most TEs, the universe is not a rational place. From their perspective, Christianity and science are not in perfect accord. As a result, some kind of “dialogue” is needed to resolve the tension. In truth, there is only one, unified, truth with many aspects. The various disciiplines, properly understood and practiced, find those aspects of the one truth. It is not the case that each discipline finds its own individual truth–except in the minds of TEs.

    In the same interview, notice Russell’s incoherent answer to a pefectly reasonable question:

    QUESTION: “Do you think that we are heading into a new age, where people will once again see that science and religion are not in conflict?”

    [*Russell cannot provide a reasonble answer because he disagrees with the questioner's premise, as is evident from his earlier comment to the effect that religion and science ARE often in conflict].

    RUSSELL:” I think we’re entering into a very interesting period, where the relations between science and religion will be more multiform. We’re in a pluralistic culture, where the sciences themselves are changing by cultures, and we’re in a pluralistic culture where religions are in dialogue. And so the actual relations between religion and science have become much more complex.”

    And again:

    “The role of women, for example, in science is a critical factor, that is altering its concepts and the way it’s practiced. And the role of women in religion is also changing radically. Both of these will affect the nature of the relations between science and religion. So I actually see it as a much more plural form relationship in the future – including what I hope is mutual responsible interaction.”

    These relational issues point only to a PERCEIVED conflict between religion and science based on cultural interests. There is no real conflict between the essential subject matter of religion and the essential subject matter of science. Russell, like most scientists, need a responsible philosopher to guide them. Obviously, he (and most TEs) are listening to irresponsible philosophers.

    Interestingly, and by contrast, Collins makes rhetorical claims to the effect that no conflict at all exists between science and religion, but, he continually argues the other way. Like Russell, he is conflicted and confused, but he doesn’t understand his own confusion.

  194. That should read, “Russell, like most scientists, needs a responsible philosopher to guide him.”

  195. “some kind of “dialogue” is needed to resolve the tension.”

    Well, it seems on this we agree. Or were you suggesting there is not only no conflict, but also no tension between science, philosophy and religion? Imo, for you to suggest there is no tension would represent an anti-realist position.

  196. StephenB:

    I’m not as hostile to Russell as you apparently are. I think that in the end I will probably disagree with at least part of his account of divine action in evolution, but I find him much more thoughtful and careful than the typical BioLogos TE.

    First, read the excerpt given in Part I of the Russell series on BioLogos. Russell’s remarks there on theology, philosophy, and history of science are more accurate, more scholarly, more nuanced, than anything ever written on Biologos by Falk, Giberson, Louis, etc. His remarks on the influence of Kantian thought are excellent (and other TEs would do well to think about them, as most of them are far more Kantian than they know), and his polite rebuke of Barthianism is deftly put (some other TEs would do well to think about that as well, and besides, Barthianism ought to be rebuked on every possible occasion). His questioning of the whole framework, bequeathed to us by Hume etc., of “miracles” vs. “natural laws”, is worth thinking about, as many TEs, in particular BioLogos TEs, for all their criticism of ID and creationism regarding miracles, operate unconsciously within that framework.

    Now, regarding this passage in your comment:

    “He often contradicts himself. In response to a question about Simpson’s famous quote, ["evolution is a purposeless, mindless process that did not have man in mind"] Russell responds by saying, “From a scientific perspective, true; from a theological perspective, false.”. Only a confused mind could hold such a self-contradictory idea.”

    As the statement stands, I would agree with you that this answer is confused. But based on what I know of Russell’s view (and assuming he still holds to something like the position he held in his essay in the *Perspectives on an Evolving Creation* book), I think that this statement does not adequately capture his actual view, but is only loose and sloppy shorthand. His actual view *seems* to be that God *does* act in the evolutionary process, and in a way that is *above and beyond* his normal action in sustaining natural processes. In other words, Russell sees, in addition to God’s *general* divine action (in upholding nature), God’s *special* divine action, as guiding the evolutionary process. But the special divine action is not visible to the tools of science, because it operates “at the quantum level.” So, for example, a mutation crucial to the evolution of man might be the product of direct divine action, but because the cause of the mutation (say, a radioactive emission) appears, as far as science can tell, to be “random,” there is no scientific way of attributing the mutation to God, and no scientific way of affirming that God is steering the process. That doesn’t mean God *isn’t* steering the process; it means that science can’t verify that.

    Another way of putting this is: for Russell, God’s action in evolution *makes a difference*. The pattern of mutations would be different, if nature were left only to “general” divine action (the “laws”), than it actually is, because “special” divine action, though invisible to our measuring instruments, is guiding evolution to a designed end. That is quite different from the “open theism” flirted with by many TEs, in which there *is* no designed end to the evolutionary process, because God lets nature experiment on its own, gives creation its “freedom” etc. For Russell, it is correct to say that evolution is “providentially guided,” whereas for most of the BioLogos TEs, the term “providence” is used vacuously, as an all-purpose theological cover-up for intellectual contradictions regarding guided/unguided events.

    If my analysis of Russell’s position is correct, then Russell was being sloppy in the answer you quote above. The word “false” should be replaced by “indeterminable.” What Russell *should* have said is: “From a scientific perspective, *indeterminable*; from a theological perspective, false.” That is, science can’t say whether or not God steered the mutations, but we know from theology that he did.

    This position may or may not be satisfactory to you, Stephen. It’s not entirely satisfactory to me. I see no *theological* problem with it, however. God in his omnipotence might choose to steer evolution with mutations whose apparent “chance” character concealed his subtle workings toward a desired end. The problem I see with it is that it is trying to address a biological problem which, from the look of things, is out of date. More and more it seems the formulation “random mutations plus natural selection” does not get even close to what happens in evolution; thus, Russell’s solution to the problem is a solution to a problem which exists only in the neo-Darwinian framework. Scrap the neo-Darwinism, and we no longer need to focus on “how God can guide apparently random mutations” — because random mutations aren’t the main driver of evolution in the first place.

    Nonetheless, *if* evolution *did* work by “mutations plus natural selection”, I would find nothing unorthdox about Russell’s formulation, since he says that God *does* perform special divine actions, and that those actions *make a real difference* regarding how evolution turns out. It is *not* as if God just creates nature and nature then blindly produces man. God is behind the scenes, guaranteeing the outcome. This is compatible with the the omnipotence and providence of God as understood in orthodox Christianity (Anglican, Reformed, Catholic, Greek Orthodox, etc.), though obviously it is not compatible with those forms of Biblicism which reject evolution per se. But that is not a problem for you, Stephen, since you accept evolution, within a teleological framework. Russell, too, has a teleological framework. As theologian, he affirms that the evolutionary process is guided toward an end. You will never find a clear statement of that from Falk, Venema, etc. So my hat is off to Russell, for not being embarrassed to say that God actually does something that makes a difference. That puts him, in my view, a cut above most of the well-known TEs, who have cultivated the art of evasiveness to a degree found only in diplomats and university presidents.

    So in sum, I think you are broad-brushing. I agree that the particular statement you quote, by itself, *looks* like the usual self-contradictory rubbish uttered by many of the famous TEs; but I think Russell has a “high view of providence” and that his words are best interpreted in light of his overall thought, rather than in isolation. That doesn’t make Russell’s view of evolution true, and I’m not endorsing his view. But I think that as ID people we should be trying to find common ground with those TEs who say things we can agree with. Russell’s overall view contradicts a good deal of rubbish about divine action written by Miller, Collins, Falk, Applegate, Louis, etc., and seems to be motivated by a desire to make God lord over the evolutionary process. Neither Christians as such, nor ID proponents as such, should have any problem with that.

  197. Gregory:

    I would guess that Russell speaks only about “natural science,” rather than social science, because natural science is the science that he knows. It shows proper intellectual modesty not to write in areas in which one is not trained, so I don’t see what your objection is here. Would you rather that Russell wrote amateurishly about social science, than knowledgeably about natural science?

    In fact, I would think you would be glad that he puts the adjective “natural” in front of “science.” Many natural scientists habitually write “science” instead of “natural science,” as if “natural science” is the only “science.” They thus indirectly snub the social sciences. By clearly identifying his concern as “natural science,” he is not denying that other things might legitimately be called “science.” He is not denying, for example, that sociology or economics can be legitimately called “sciences.” He’s merely limiting his discussion to theology and *natural* science. This seems to me to be honesty in advertising on his part, and to have no negative implications for social sciences.

    I think that social sciences, at their best, are every bit as legitimate as forms of knowledge as natural science. But I don’t see how they come into the questions that Russell is trying to answer. He is trying to deal with how God interacts with electrons and nuclei and genomes, not with social questions. I don’t expect Max Weber or Emile Durkheim or B. F. Skinner to explain how God guides organic evolution, and I don’t expect Russell to explain the phenomena of class or hierarchy or slavery or propaganda or free markets. So I’m having trouble grasping your apparent objection. What else would you want Russell to do, other than what he is doing? What else should someone trained in physics and theology, trying to understand divine action in organic evolution, be talking about?

  198. Timaeus and Ted,

    First, let it be noted, given nullasalus’ prior complaints to me for speaking my disciplinary language, that Timaeus brought up ‘social sciences’ in this thread, not I. I merely highlighted that ‘natural sciences’ do not exhaust the definition of ‘sciences.’

    That more people here at UD do not see the relevance of this reminder is frankly surprising given the expressed desire by Phillip Johnson and many of the other ID leaders to challenge ‘naturalism’. By highlighting the limits of natural science in contrast to all sciences (i.e. including sciences of ‘non-natural’ or ‘extra-natural’), the claim that ‘science is restricted to studying what is natural’ is quite obviously only a partial definition of ‘science.’ Do folks here not see that as a significant concession for naturalists to make?

    I was not suggesting Russell should write amateurly about social science. Some charity or display of understanding on your part, Timaeus, about my legitimate reason for pointing out the meaning of CTNS and what Russell focuses on would help in our dialogue. Highlighting Russell’s bias (and we all have biases, Timaeus and myself included) is relevant to the question I put to Ted Davis about ‘historical sciences.’ That is the context in which Russell’s approach was raised given that Ted is currently appealing to Russell’s work at BioLogos and now here.

    Adding to #192, are ‘historical sciences’ in Ted’s view just repackaged ‘natural sciences’; are all historical sciences forms of natural science? Meyer, for instance, refers to geology, palaeontology and archaeology as ‘historical sciences.’ But doesn’t *any* science that deals with history then deserve the label ‘historical science’? Aren’t there disciplines other than natural sciences that try to “infer history from its results”?

    If you don’t see the significance of this line/network of questioning, Timaeus, let me spell it out for you more clearly. This leads eventually to a claim that scientists who are not ‘natural scientists’ can actually better understand the core meaning of ‘intelligent design’ (which is directed mainly toward biology and origins of life, leveraged by engineering and information sciences language) than can ‘natural scientists.’ As a person who has openly questioned the scientificity of ‘design’ and suggested willingness to include ID in philosophy or religious studies arenas, Timaues, it would be a surprise if you didn’t acknowledge and support this.

  199. Gregory:

    It was not my intention to interpret you uncharitably. I literally did not know what your complaint against Russell was. I start to understand it better now.

    Still, to make clear to you why I was confused, let us look at exactly what you wrote:

    “Obviously he privileges ‘natural sciences’ even in the title of the organisation he founded – Theology and NATURAL Sciences. Thus, a bias in his views of ‘nature’ regarding ‘science’ is noteworthy …”

    Why do you use the word “privileges” — which tends to suggest an unwarranted favorable treatment? If I founded an organization called “Society for the Promotion of Thai Cooking”, does the name of my society “privilege” Thai cooking over Greek cooking, Polish cooking, etc.? That doesn’t follow. I may love Greek cooking and Polish cooking just as much as Thai cooking; I may love them even more. I may have founded the society for Thai cooking merely because that is an area where, in my view, the public has less knowledge and needs more help, not because I am too blind to see the virtues of other kinds of cooking. So, too, perhaps Russell investigates “natural science and religion” rather than “social science and religion” or “art history and religion” because he thinks that “natural science and religion” is an area that at the moment requires particular public discussion, not because he thinks natural science is more important than social science or art history.

    I see no “bias” or “privileging” merely in the fact that an organization is dedicated to a particular theme. You might as well say that the Audubon Society “privileges” birds and has a “bias” against human beings, or that lawyers “privilege” law over medicine as a human activity. I think that such expressions would be unjust.

    Again, I am not trying to be quarrelsome. I am not denying that Russell, or any human being, has biases. But I don’t see how you can get “bias” out of the mere fact that he works for an organization that has a particular aim or goal. The fact that a person is at the moment concentrating on a particular goal doesn’t imply that the person denies the validity of other goals, or even minimizes their importance.

    OK, so that explains why I was confused. Now to the point of substance in your reply.

    It is the human experience of designing things that enables us to talk about design. And yes, of course, the natural scientist does not automatically or necessarily have the deepest insight into the nature of “design.” I would say that those who have the deepest insight into the nature of design are those who have, at a minimum, at least *some* experience of *actually designing* something. In other words, people like engineers and architects, but also composers of symphonies, designers of complex theme parks, magazine editors, computer programmers, etc. These people have first-hand knowledge of what human beings are doing when they design things. They know what design can do, and they know when it is necessary.

    Now it is interesting, is it not, that a very large number of supporters of ID — I’m not talking primarily about the ten or so publically well-known figures, but the thousands of back-up players — are in fields such as engineering and computer science? Many of the commenters here (e.g., Gil Dodgen) are in that category. When you eat, breathe and drink “design” on an everyday basis, you acquire a very good sense of what design can do that chance and natural laws can’t. You know, for example, that a word processor couldn’t accidentally mutate in a stepwise fashion into a spreadsheet, by a series of accidental changes in the code.

    On the other hand, a geneticist who has never so much as fixed a bicycle in his life, and knows only how to read genome charts, and says: “Hey, this chimp genome looks a lot like the human one — so we must have a common ancestor with chimps” is not the right person to ask about how a chimp or a human could be *built*, step by step, out of a common ancestor. Someone who builds things with tight design constraints for a living would have a much better idea of what is feasible. Such a person would know that it is not just a question of mutating some genes randomly, then counting on “drift” to propagate them, until they fortuitously assemble into a human pattern; such a person knows that all the intermediate stages must be technically viable, must meet engineering constraints, must be able to survive in the intermediate environments. Geneticists, per se, know zero about that. They aren’t physiologists, and they aren’t developmental biologists with expertise in epigenetics, and they aren’t ecologists with expertise on what makes for survival. Without that knowledge, they can’t possibly explain how you can build a human from a common ancestor. The most perfect knowledge of every genome map available doesn’t give us that sort of information.

    Yet who are the neo-Darwinian evolutionary theorists? Geneticists, mostly, lacking the other biological specialties I mentioned, and in addition, with almost zero training in engineering, architecture, musical or artistic composition, or anything involving design. What have Falk, Venema, Dawkins, Coyne, Lewontin, etc. ever designed or built in their lives? What experience have they of the thousands of failures that designers and testers routinely encounter? Yet these people, who have never created a thing themselves, either a new biological entity or even a new toothbrush, are *sure* that random changes plus “natural selection” can create anything out of anything, given enough time.

    So yes, Gregory, I agree with you — knowledge of designed things, and how they are designed, and constraints on design, are necessary to discuss whether or not biological evolution could proceed without design. And natural scientists aren’t always the most experienced people when it comes to design. That’s why I’m very pleased with the high degree of interaction within the ID movement between biologists and biochemists, on one hand, and engineers, architects, information theorists, and others (I know of ID supporters who are theatrical producers, poets, and musical composers as well).

    Already the experience of human designing is entering into biological science. As James Barham has shown in other columns here, biological journal articles — even those written by atheists with contempt for ID — crawl with teleological language borrowed from human experience of designed, constructed things. The biologists, with every motive to keep design language out, given their Darwinian prejudices, can’t keep the barbarian outside the gates. Biological systems, by their very nature, *invite* design language. And as more and more engineers and computer scientists apply their experience in design fields to the understanding of organic nature, the amount of design language will only increase. There is nothing that BioLogos or the New Atheists can do to stop this. The phenomena themselves cry out for this approach.

    So by all means, let us supplement our natural science with the experience of human design. Let’s interpret nature in the light of what we have learned from engineers, programmers, musicians, playwrights, inventors, etc. Let’s supplement the narrower training of the natural scientists with the insights derived from other areas of human experience.

    I’m 100% onside with you on this, Gregory. But will you do me a favor, and make the same pitch to the New Atheists and the biologists over at BioLogos? They haven’t yet seen your point.

  200. For StephenB:

    Finally I remembered to post this. Here are the reasons that I take the plain meaning of the words of Genesis as the meaning intended by the author.

    • The overwhelming meaning for the Hebrew word “day” when used with the words “morning” or “evening” is a literal 24 hour day, even when not used in historical narrative. This is very strong textual evidence for the literal reading.

    • Also when used with a number, it always has a literal meaning in the Bible. (Zech. 14:7 is a possible exception. This is in a prophetic book and looks to be in the form of a chiastic structure with v. 6-7 being the center. There is a wide variety of opinion as to what the word “day” means here. It certainly is not sufficient cause to question the overall pattern of Scripture. Often it is translated as “unique day” instead of “one day”.) In Genesis it is in a numbered series and numbered series always refer to a literal meaning in the Bible without exception.

    • When yom appears in the plural form, when the context demands it, it can refer to longer periods of time. Ie “days of Noah”, “ancient of days”, “as in the days gone by”, etc. But the word is used in the singular form in Genesis which argues against this type of interpretation.

    • It is interesting to think about what other words Moses could have used. Of the 13 words referring to time in the Hebrew language, 11 of them refer to a long period of time. If Moses had said “and there were days of morning and evening” or used day in conjunction with the word “olam” so that it would read “and there were days of old”, than that would allow for a long period of time, but he used yom in the singular form. (It should be noted that yom can refer to a longer period of time even in the singular form when the context demands it. There are perhaps 60 verses – all in prophetic writings or the poetic books of the Bible – where this is true. It is also important to note that none of these usages are combined with a number or are modified with the words “morning” or “evening”. So the burden of proof is on OECers to show why this should be the preferred interpretation in Genesis 1.

    • He could also have chosen words that indicate a creation starting in the past but continuing on into the future which would support the idea of theistic evolution where God creates over long periods of time. If these had been chosen by the Holy Spirit, then it might read like this: “And it was generations of days and nights” or “And it was a continuation of days”, but these words were not chosen either.(olam, tamid, dor, ad)

    • An ambiguous reference to time could have been used that would not specify the length at all. Using “yom” with light and darkness where light and darkness are used in a figurative sense “and it was a day of light and darkness” or “in the day of the Lord”. Or the word “et” for time could have been combined with day and night as it is in 3 other verses of Scripture, and sometimes refers to an ambiguous period of time, but God chose the word “yom”.

    • Exodus 20:11 Here God tells us what the length of the days are very clearly. Letting Scripture interpret Scripture is a very important principle of hermeneutics.

    • The Bible connects Genesis 1-11 with Genesis 12-50 with the genealogies showing that both are historical narrative.

    • There are at least 25 NT references to Gen. 1-11 and they are always treated as real history. One example I have given previously is when Jesus himself refers to Genesis 1 & 2 in Mark 10:6-9 when he was questioned about divorce, so He obviously took them as history. He said that humans were created as male and female at the beginning of creation, not in the last 0.009% of historical time. How can this be interpreted to mean long ages?

    • There is an abundant use of the Hebrew waw consecutive preterite verbs which is a clear characteristic of Hebrew historical narrative.

    Besides this evidence, if God intended us to understand “yom” a non-literal sense, then it seems like He would be guilty of misleading His people for thousands of years. Certainly God could have/should have done a better job of communicating His truth in the very first and foundational section of His Word. The OEC view, whether TE or ID or some other variation, means that we have Charles Lyell and his anti-Moses evolutionist friends to thank for a proper interpretation of Genesis.

    And yet Stephen, you yourself said that if a flood occurred the geologists should take that into account. Lyell rejected that idea and came up with the idea of uniformitarianism. He did exactly what you said he should not do and still you think the uniformitarian framework is the best framework for doing historical science?

    I guess I’m having trouble figuring out how you can hold to uniformitarianism and a global flood at the same time. Those positions seem mutually exclusive in my mind.

    Don’t you think that the God who created the reality we see all around us is also capable of describing it to us accurately?

    In the Bible, God makes authoritative statements about reality. Even when He uses figurative language to communicate to us, still He intends to communicate a literal truth to us through that and He does so in a way that that meaning will not be missed. Jesus’ use of parables is a good illustration of this.

    If Genesis is not to be read in a literal manner, then Scriptural interpretation seems almost hopeless. Anyway, in my view, the OEC view violates the doctrine of the perspicuity/clarity of Scriptures and makes God look bad for misleading His people for so many years, plus it violates lots of Hebrew grammar rules as mentioned above.

    OK, well I left you with a backlog of posts to respond to, but especially I’d like to hear how you can maintain belief in an old earth while remaining faithful to the Bible and holding to a global flood.

  201. tjguy, I apologize for the delayed response on the subject of Biblical hermeneutics:

    First, I agree that the bible contains true revelation without error. It is not simply a series of stories that have nothing to do withr reality. In principle are in accord on that point. So, we can move on from there.

    One hermeneutical principle I hold to is that God reveals himself according to the cultural concepts, categories, and mindsets of his listeners. Yes, He is, in another sense, speaking to all of us in Scripture, but first and foremost His audience consists (consisted) of those whom He was [is] seeking to transform. On matters of ethics, for example, He does not present his complete doctrine in the Old Testament. The Ten Commandments, though meaningful to everyone, does not provide enough information on which to base a complete life of love. It focuses almost exclusively on behavior and de-emphasizes the problem of intentions, which, as it turns out, is even more important. For teachings of that texture, we need to consult the Sermon on the Mount and other moral truths contained in the New Testament. God withheld the more subtle ethical points in the Old Testament because He had to take His people from where they were. You cannot speak of loving your enemies, crucifying lustful thoughts, and and controlling your anger to someone who is on the verge of worshiping a golden calf. Before God transforms a good man into a saint {New Testament], He must first transform a crude man into a good man {Old Testament]. Does this mean that the Old Testament contains error. No, not at all.

    As it is with moral development, so it is with intellectual development. God must take people from where they are. Just as human beings develop morally to the point where they can understand monogamy, they must also develop intellectually in order to defend truth. In keeping with that requirement, God reveals himself to people according to their cultural concepts, categories and mindsets, meaning that His revelation DEVELOPS along with the intellectual and cultural capacity of human beings. Throughout time, we have improved on our understanding of the world and our methods for understanding it.

    According to one hermeneutical principle,“whatever is received is received in the manner of the receiver.” Theological Robert Spitzer puts it this way: “If you were just learning to add and subtract and I put a series of algebraic functions on the board, you would not be able to understand them because you do not have the categorical apparatus to understand the intricacies of algebraic equations. You’d be looking for the numbers and trying to figure out why there are letters like “x” in the middle of the math problem.” Precisely.

    .

    Again, I draw from Fr. Spitzer: “God had to wait until the categories of mathematics and method were appropriately broad and complex to accommodate a scientific worldview. When it came, his revelation was intrinsic to it. We don’t need to twist that evidence to find God – he is writ large in the equations of the Big Bang, the physical evidence for a beginning of the universe (even if there were a pre-Big Bang period), the second law of thermo-dynamics (entropy), and other clues. Indeed, if we find that a multiverse requires as much fine-tuning as the phenomenon it is trying to explain (say, in the slow roll of bubble universes necessary to prevent collisions), then there will be even more clues about God’s super-calculating intelligence.”

    Naturally, all these considerations should prompt us to ask whether Moses was concerned about presenting a scientifically accurate view of God’s creative act when He writes in Genesis. Should he have anticipated Newton’s account of science or Einsteins amendments? Or would it not make more sense to accentuate eternal truths that are not vulnerable to science’s changing paradigms? Among those eternal truths found in Genesis, we can include the points I made in my earlier post.

    Am I absolutely certain I am right about this? No. It may well be just as you say. I am open to the idea that God made the word in six days and that the principle of “uniformatarianism is false. If you are asking about the proportions involved, I am about 70-30 on the side of an old earth, but I remain open to alternative points of view. For my part, the value of anthropology, geology, and paleontology are overrated. More often than not, they are used to question God’s eternal truths rather than confirm them. However, that is not the fault of the scientific method, but is rather a problem with materialist ideology.

    On the matter of the flood, I accept it as a historical event because it is presented as a historical event. In keeping with that point, however, I am open to the prospect that it may not have been a world-wide flood because I am not sure that Scripture requires that interpretation. as I said earlier, IF it requires that interpretation, then I accept it on that basis.

    Since I accept the Biblical teaching that God reveals himself in nature, I also accept the principle that we can attain limited levels of truths independently of Scripture. What good is a natural revelation that depends solely on Divine revelation for its legitimacy? Such a revelation is not a complement to, but is merely a derivative of, Divine revelation.

    Without God’s natural revelation, the apologist is without any intellectual tools to bring a pagan to belief in God. Indeed, without reason and God’s natural revelation, one cannot even present reasons for accepting the Bible over the Koran or any other book that claims to be holy.

    How can reason test the reasonableness of a world view if reason cannot attain some measure of truth on its own? By what standard does the Christian tell the Muslim or the Hindu that his world view makes the most sense if there is no objective independent standard for discerning what does, indeed, make sense? It is on this point that I think we most strongly disagree. I think science should respect theology and even be informed by it, but I don’t think scientific methodology (or philosophical investigations for that matter) should begin with faith in Biblical truths; I think both should begin with faith in self-evident truths, the first principles of right reason, and evidence from observation.

  202. StephenB (201):

    I like your response to tjguy here. The second part of your response is essentially the point that the Pope was making in his Regensburg address. Without a general standard of reason, interreligious dialogue is impossible; or, at best, all that such dialogue can be is a dogmatic restatement of everyone’s position, over and over again, with the partisans of each position hoping that God will suddenly convert the unbeliever in a flash of non-rational insight. Of course, this is what many Protestants, in particular those of the Barthian variety, in fact believe: evangelism can do nothing more than preach the Word, which is beyond reason; and it’s God’s job, not the job of the apologist, to make the word effective. But I’m with you; such a view of revelation and reason not only destroys the possibility of natural theology, and makes interreligious dialogue fundamentally insincere; it also ignores the fact that the second person of the Trinity is the Word, the Logos, and that He is intrinsically rational.

    As to the first part, I agree with that as well. The Bible must be read in the light of all we know about ancient literature, ancient culture, etc. We have to understand what the notion of “truth” was for the writers and readers. It wasn’t the modern, mechanical idea of truth as “fact” — which would imply that every single narrative sentence of the Bible can be lifted out of context and verified for its fidelity to a past event, in a one-to-one correspondence. That idea, held by both fundamentalists and Enlightenment skeptics, misunderstands the mode of ancient religious writing.

    There is a clear truth in Genesis 1, a truth which is not altered by the fact that the writer of Genesis 1, or at the very least, the readers for whom he intended the work — held to erroneous views about firmaments and waters and windows in the heavens (erroneous views that are found in the Flood story as well). The truth is that God created the world in accord with a design, and that he set it up so that all its inhabitants would have means of sustenance, and hence owe their continued existence to him; and that man was created with special privilege and special purpose, to rule over parts of the creation as the image-bearer of God. That truth is taken up later into the Christian faith, whereas the view that there is a dome in the sky through which rain pours is quietly dropped, being inessential.

    The six-day scheme of creation is one of the many details which are not essential to the truth of the story. If the creation had been described as taking place in twelve days (corresponding symbolically, perhaps, to the twelve tribes of Israel), the main point of the creation story would be unaltered. It doesn’t matter how many days God took, or what was the length of the days, or even whether the days were meant as chronological units at all; none of that affects the overall teaching — the dependence of all Creation on God, and the special role of man in the created cosmos.

    There is a tremendous fear in American evangelical circles that if even a single narrative statement in Genesis 1-11 does not correspond to “historical fact,” the entire Christian revelation will be proved untrustworthy. But of course this is a modern obsession. Augustine, who certainly thought the Bible was trustworthy, thought that the creation of the world was instantaneous and that the sequential representation was a pedagogical device of God for helping the simple folk to understand. It was never a requirement of Christian faith that every single narrative prose sentence in the Bible be treated as an empirical proposition.

  203. 203

    As usual the focus is on Genesis 1 when the real argument is Genesis 5 and 11.

    But anyway…

    How can reason test the reasonableness of a world view if reason cannot attain some measure of truth on its own?

    I’ll tell you how.

    1. Make your assumptions. These assumptions you must take on faith.

    2. Through the use of Reason draw rational conclusions from these assumptions.

    3. Compare your conclusions to your observations.

    4. Repeat 1-3 until you have a satisfactory number of possible assumption sets which lead more or less to the conclusions that match most closely to the observations.

    5. Decide which set of assumptions leads to conclusions which best fit the observed data.

    There you go.

    But there are at least two problems with this method:

    A) We have not made all possible observations. In fact we have made a very limited number of observations compared to the number possible. Therefore we have a very limited amount of evidence to compare with our rationally drawn conclusions.

    B) Taking A) into account, there are nearly always multiple sets of assumptions which will rationally lead to conclusions which compare favorably to the observed evidence. In other words, picking between differing sets of assumptions is largely a matter of opinion, since there are large numbers of assumption sets which can be constructed that fit the small amount of available evidence. No theory will be perfect, but that means that which one you choose is largely opinion, because each view has different strengths and weaknesses when compared to the evidence.

    And Stephen, I am actually somewhat offended by the insinuation that Moses or whoever wrote Genesis didn’t care about the truth. Of course they weren’t scientists. They were historians. It’s insulting to the human race to believe that ancient people didn’t care about the truth as much as we modern people do. Of course there are certain scientific questions we could never answer by reading Genesis. But that doesn’t make it complete BS.

  204. tragic:

    Since StephenB is a practicing and very conservative Catholic, he obviously does not think that Genesis or any part of the Bible is “BS.” He is not challenging the veracity of the Bible; he is challenging the adequacy of the Young Earth interpretation of the Bible.

    StephenB has not said that the writer of Genesis “didn’t care about the truth.” He has said that the writer of Genesis did not intend certain things to be understood as historical chronicle. But I am sure that StephenB believes that the writer of Genesis cared just as much about the truth as modern people do.

    You seem to be equating “true writing” with “historical writing.” But much true writing is not historical writing. Shakespeare’s King Lear is one of the truest pieces of writing ever set down on paper, but it is not an accurate history of any king who ever lived. To “defend” the truth of King Lear by trying to find evidence of a real historical Goneril, Cordelia, etc. would be to seriously misunderstand Shakespeare’s purpose.

    So rather than start from the assumption that the six days are meant to be a chronicle of six calendar days, it seems to me wiser to ask how “days” function within the narrative of Genesis 1. It is clear that they are an organizing device for the elements described in the Creation. The first task is to understand that organizational function, and only afterwards to ask — if the question is still relevant at all, once one understands the organizational function — whether they are also true chronological indicators.

    On the point about “reason” I will let StephenB speak for himself, but it seems clear that you, like most Protestants and especially like most conservative evangelical Protestants, are employing the modern, utilitarian, truncated notion of reason as logic or reckoning, whereas StephenB apparently has in mind the fuller, richer, pre-modern Christian and philosophical understanding of reason as a touch-point between the soul and reality. As a confirmed pre-modern, I share StephenB’s understanding. And I think that common reason is what makes it possible for well-intentioned Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Christians, etc. to have a genuine religious dialogue.

  205. Timaeus, you have summarized my position very well @202 and 204. Thank you.

  206. 206

    “Pre-modern…” That’s a laugh. As if it wasn’t the moderns who first denied the historical interpretation of Genesis.

  207. tragic:

    Actually, Origen in the third century denied the literalness of some of the statements of Genesis. Read Book 4 of De Principiis. (Of course, as VJTorley has shown, Origen’s anti-literalism wasn’t as extensive as many TEs and others have claimed; but he is certainly anti-literal about some things.) And apparently you did not notice my comment above about Augustine’s denial of literal days of creation. So it is not simply the moderns who have questioned the appropriateness of reading every narrative detail in Genesis 1-11 literally.

    What you are not seeing is that the motivation for not reading Genesis literally does not have to be a capitulation to modern thought. That is the motivation of the biologists over at BioLogos, because they have capitulated to neo-Darwinism and therefore are compelled to read Genesis non-literally, whether the text can sustain such a reading or not. It wasn’t the motivation of Origen or Augustine, and I doubt it’s the motivation of StephenB. The people in the latter group have good textual and general philosophical and theological reasons for reading parts of Genesis non-literally.

    Be that as it may, my comments about ancients and moderns was not in reference to the reading of Genesis, but was addressed to your notion of “reason.” If you want further explication of what is meant by “reason” in the ancient Greek and Christian traditions, I would suggest that you do some reading in Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, and some of the leading scholarly commentaries thereon. What you depicted as “reason” was straight out of Hobbes, Bacon, Hume, and Kant. I don’t mean you got it directly from them; I mean that modern thought, from the highest levels of academia down to the lowest levels of bar-room debating, is saturated with that understanding of “reason” — and that means that most churchgoing folk share in it, too. I’ve rarely met a Protestant clergyman, liberal or fundamentalist, who hasn’t bought completely into it and doesn’t spread it through his sermons and other activities. You’ll find a semi-popular account of this saturation process in the writings of Nancy Pearcey. I don’t entirely agree with all of her views, but if the things I am saying seem utterly strange and counter-intuitive to you, she might be the best place to begin.

  208. “It was not my intention to interpret you uncharitably. I literally did not know what your complaint against Russell was. I start to understand it better now.” – Timaeus

    It is rarely people’s intentions that make them interpret uncharitably. In this case, I suspect there is a generational thing involved here; you are confronting the contemporary language of youth with the language of by-gone years in terms of relevance and currency. It is quite common nowadays to use the term ‘privilege’ the way I did and I’m confident that those under 35-40 yrs on this list understood exactly what I meant. Probably many 50+ understand it also as they participate in leading-edge conversations of this era. In fact, the IDM understands this quite well, Timaeus, and this shows once again that you are not and why you are not ‘within it,’ other than culture war cheerleading.

    “Why do you use the word “privileges” — which tends to suggest an unwarranted favorable treatment?” – Timaeus

    So, what you are suggesting is that the book by G. Gonzalez and J. Richards – “The Privileged Planet” – is meant to deem the Earth has ‘unwarranted favourable treatment’? This makes no sense. Why do you think the Earth’s privileged position is ‘unwarranted,’ Timaeus?

    B. Carter’s inventive concept duo (much like ‘intelligent’ plus ‘design’) likewise supports the following meaning: “Although our [human] situation is not necessarily central, it is inevitably privileged to some extent.” Do you mean to say that Carter was implying ‘unwarranted favourable treatment’ to human beings with his anthropic principle?

    “The fact that a person is at the moment concentrating on a particular goal doesn’t imply that the person denies the validity of other goals, or even minimizes their importance.” – Timaeus

    Right; it means that the person doesn’t properly give them notice and thus most probably misses their significance in the broader conversation by paying them little-to-no attention. Russell’s CTNS institute, founded before the internet was invented, is of the outdated ‘natural sciences vs. religion’ variety. Today we need new language to face the challenges and opportunities of ‘intelligent design’ and ‘design’ language in non-natural scientific fields, where the real action is (in this USAmerican election year).

    “The central [natural] scientific focus of CTNS is on developments in physics, cosmology, evolutionary biology, and genetics, with additional topics in the neurosciences, the environmental sciences, and mathematics.” – CTNS (Russell’s natural science vs. religion dialectic organisation)

    Have you read the text “Situated Knowledges” by Donna Haraway, Timaeus? This would help educate you to confront this monumental topic and give you a clue as to what I meant about Russell’s privileged prioritization of fields; it likewise might help correct your sexist ‘he, his’ language. But hey, writing ‘she, her’ was not something that the generation educated in the 1950’s and 60’s paid much attention or respect to. In this case, my language is much closer and kosher to the IDM’s than is yours, Timaeus.

    Timaeus, do you remember when you asked me a few months back what my position was on a certain topic, requesting something positive from me instead of merely negative or critical of ID, and I told you that I’d just written a book about it? I asked if you’d be willing to read it. You didn’t acknowledge me though I directly answered your request for proof, a question which was repeated to check the authenticity of your refusal to actually engage.

    That’s when I sensed that you did not really seem interested in truth or reality, but rather in playing some kind of insular rhetorical game as a neo-Greek philosophist and retired historian of ideas who by sad fate lives in the electronic-information age. This is now obvious as you taunt people to go read modern philosophers common to your ‘history of ideas’ trade while defending ‘pre-modern’ thinking in a ‘post-modern’ age. But hey, some people are attracted to ID just because they like to take-on and to project the image of being an underdog!

    You say you do not defend the scientificity of intelligent design/Intelligent Design, but that you would like to see it taught or discussed in philosophy or religious studies classes, while the IDM leadership insists on entering (eventually) ID into natural science classrooms. Do you now “start to understand it better” what I meant by ‘privilege’ or do I need to send you to read texts that are new, fresh, up-to-date, which people today are facing and which predominantly define their language, perception and personal understanding, instead of your continued appeals to ‘pre-modern’ thought as an escape from today’s reality?

    Intelligent design was crafted for a new generation of young thinkers (cf. Dembski 2004), based on the idea that an older generation of (neo-Darwinian) scholars would need to retire before ID could gain the upper hand in the cultural realm in addition to natural sciences. Then, eventually it would also trickle-up to social sciences and humanities. We are the ones who hold the keys here, Timaeus, not you.

    I’m sorry to harp on this Timaeus because I think perhaps you’re actually a decent guy. But I do not value or respect your words attempting to define what is or is not of ‘substance’ in my messages, given how many times you’ve avoided what I consider of substance in them directed at you. I find IDM-ID people much more on the cutting-edge than you; for example, they know what ‘privileged’ means in context, without imputing unkind motives or acting condescendingly.

    However, we are on the following completely agreed, when you say: “It is the human experience of designing things that enables us to talk about [unembodied/external] design.”

    One might think the IDM would thus heed more attention and resources to studying and promoting the “human experience of designing [process] things.” Why do you think it doesn’t, Timaeus? Doing thus, it could possibly uncover the unwarranted and/or mis-directed privileging of natural sciences that is demonstrated by Russell’s obviously un-holistic (western) view of ‘science and religion’ discourse. It would bring ‘reflexive’ knowledge to the forefront of relevance and vanquish ‘objectivistic naturalism’ to the bleachers for popcorn and hot-dogs while the game is still on and in its most heated and hopeful moments.

    “I’m 100% onside with you on this, Gregory. But will you do me a favor, and make the same pitch to the New Atheists and the biologists over at BioLogos? They haven’t yet seen your point.”

    Again, Timaeus, New Atheists are not my preferred audience, though it appears you continually seek their validation. As it is, I am indeed ready to promote and publish the work of colleagues regarding New Atheism and ID. And I am also willing to pitch to a historian of science, anthropologist and biologists over at BioLogos about the experiences of humans-making-things. Are you willing to do the same, given the art of sock puppetry you are currently practising, having never published a peer-reviewed article about ID in an academic journal, for all your time spent blogging as a pre-modern scholar on a site not of your own making? Your King is in check from multiple sides, you’ve lost your Queen and pose no offensive threat in the match.

    This is how rappers speak in the 21st century, faithfully identifying their territory and challenging others (like Timaeus-the-Greek) to face with due sincerity their rhythm and the rhymes. Does Timaeus have an ID-rap to share with us? Or is that likewise not the preferred language of his pre-modern, pre-ID generation?

  209. My, my, Gregory!

    I don’t think much of the accuracy of your sweeping comments about different generations, but if *I* had to make such a sweeping generalization, and were forced to base it solely on the characteristics of your typical reply to me (characteristics which several other people on UD have noted in many of your posts, and pointed out to you), I would say that my generation of academics was trained quite differently from your generation of academics. My generation was trained to say: “I agree with you about X, because …” and “I disagree with you about Y, because …” and to leave out the ad hominem remarks and gratuitous self-references. Apparently the young scholars who are coming up these days think that deliberate insults, motive-mongering, innuendo, and tones of mockery and hostility are a normal part of civilized intellectual exchange. Ah, well, fortunately for you, my generation is not long for this earth, so you won’t have to endure our stodgy, Victorian ways much longer. And I’m sure the world will be much better off with a generation that is oh-so-careful about “sexist language” while being verbally brutal in a hundred other ways that my generation wasn’t.

    Your zealous defense of your language was mostly unnecessary. I did not have any trouble understanding your *usage* of the term “privileged”; I was questioning only your *application* of the term (and the term “biased”) to Russell. As I said to you, very gently and without rancor, it is quite possible that Russell is “biased” about many things, and that he unduly “privileges” this or that; my point was that it was insufficient to base such claims merely on the name of the title of his institution — and that was the *only* reason you gave for your attack on Russell. I have no more to say about this, and won’t pursue it.

    I do not recall ever saying that ID should be taught in philosophy or religious studies classrooms. First of all, if I *did* think that the public school system should expose students to ID, the vast majority of public schools in the US either never offer philosophy or religious studies courses at all, or offer them only sporadically, so that would be a very unreliable way to convey the material. Second, while ID can have important religious implications, it in itself has nothing to with religion. It is about design detection. It might make sense in ancient history class, in the sections on the discoveries of archaeology, since archaeologists have to make ID decisions routinely in their work. But since its main goal is to show the applicability of design notions to the world of nature, and since it can’t be understood without some basic scientific knowledge, the main place it would be of any use — if it were taught at all — would be in science class — in physics and chemistry to discuss fine-tuning, and in biology to discuss integrated, complex, organic systems. I say that this is where it would belong *if* it were taught in the school system — I am *not* declaring that it *should* be taught in the school system. As for the ID leadership, it has explicitly renounced the goal of trying to force ID into the public school system. The belief that there is a secret plan to do so down the road is based on the “Wedge Document” which is now ancient, and it would require fresh, up-to-date documentary evidence to show that the majority of the ID leaders entertains any such plan now. If anyone has such fresh evidence, they are welcome to trot it out.

    In the meantime, I’d be content if ID was never mentioned in biology class, provided that the biology curriculum were updated to include evolutionary theory more recent than about 1985; the newest developments are going to blow neo-Darwinism away. The understanding of evolution pushed by Eugenie Scott, Ken Miller, Richard Dawkins, and Jerry Coyne (not to mention the biologists at BioLogos) is laughably primitive, yesterday’s warmed-over theory, the Modern Synthesis of about 1945 papered over with some recent genomics charts to give a new look to very old and stale ideas of evolutionary mechanism — the equivalent of putting a modern Toyota body around an 1890s Daimler engine.

    You say that the ID people should pay more attention to the human experience of designing things. Funny, Stephen Meyer talks about that experience almost *ad nauseam* in his book. Have you read it? And Bill Dembski talks about many examples of human design, in both *The Design Inference* and *No Free Lunch*. Have you read either of those? And how many times has Behe talked about the designed character of the mousetrap? Oh, and let’s not forget his lengthy discussion of design in his podcast debate with Barr. And didn’t I already mention Gil Dodgen’s frequent comments here about his experience as an engineer and the light it sheds on the plausibility of evolution by “random mutation”? And perhaps you remember Dave Scot, an expert in computer systems, who advanced similar arguments on this site. I think that ID people are doing plenty of application of “the human experience of designing things.” Perhaps you just haven’t noticed.

    As for your reference to a book of yours, I do not have my exact words in front of me, and cannot remember which of scores of threads the discussion was on, but if I recall correctly, I asked you for your opinion on biological evolution — on whether or not macroevolution had occurred, and, if it did occur, whether, in your opinion, it occurred wholly through natural means, or whether some divine intervention was involved. I probably also asked you if you thought that the mechanisms you proposed were compatible with historical, orthodox Christian theological doctrines of God’s providence, governance, etc. Are you telling me that you have written a book endorsing macroevolution and discussing its biological mechanisms, and also proving that those mechanisms are compatible with God’s omnipotence, governance, and providence? If so, I will gladly read a book like that. But you have given the repeated impression that your academic training is neither in theology nor in the biological or other natural sciences, but in the social sciences, which makes it unlikely that you would have written a book answering such questions. If I am wrong, if your book discusses in detail the biological critiques of neo-Darwinism by people such as Newman and Lima de Faria and Shapiro, and in detail the theologies of creation of people such as Calvin and Wesley and Luther and Augustine and Barth and Schleiermacher and Whitehead, then I would be interested in learning your opinions on those matters. So please give me a rough, one-paragraph abstract of the contents of the book, and indicate what percentage of the book is devoted exclusively to the subjects I have indicated, and we’ll take it from there.

  210. @StephenB 201

    Thanks for the interaction StephenB! You and I agree that God’s Word is trustworthy and dependable, but we have fundamentally different approaches to God’s Word and therefore we have different interpretations of it. You lean toward Father Spitzer’s views. Father Spitzer says this on his website:

    The Magis Center of Reason and Faith is dedicated to looking at the evidence for a transcendent being from the disciplines of physics, philosophy, mathematics and metaphysics. In order to clarify issues concerning the Bible, science, and evolution, we will sometimes answer questions about the Bible and Christianity. We believe that the New Testament is a broader, fuller revelation of God which emerged from the time of Abraham in 1800 BCE to the time of Jesus Christ and found its complete expression in the death and resurrection of Jesus, who revealed God to be unconditional love. Biblical exegesis is normally beyond our scope, however.

    That pretty well explains it. He says that biblical exegesis is normally beyond their scope. This means that their normal practice is that they do not take the Word of God into account when they do science. They use uniformitarian principles to interpret the evidence. So, no surprise that they come up with an old earth and then, after having based their interpretation of nature on non-biblical uniformitarian assumptions, they come back to Scripture and reinterpret it to fit their scientific views.
    Needless to say, this is not the way I believe we should interpret the Bible

    I do agree with progressive revelation in that we do not have all of God’s truth in Genesis or even in the OT. We learn more about heaven and the afterlife as we move from the OT to the NT.

    But the important thing to remember about all “new” revelation is that it must agree with or build upon past revelation. It will never nullify older revelation.

    For instance, Noah and his descendants had no idea that the ark was a type of Christ. God is amazing in the way He ordained history. David was a type of Christ, but we all believe in a literal David and don’t question anything about his life. In the same way, just because Noah and Adam are types of Christ, does not mean that the historical record of their lives is unreliable. So, I do not believe that new revelation will nullify or change the meaning of older revelation. This is why Jesus and all the NT authors took Genesis as truth and interpreted it in the plain sense of the words. And that is why I believe God intends for us to do the same.

    The first 11 chapters form the whole foundation for the Bible and it is one of the most important passages in the whole Bible. Genesis is the most quoted book in the Bible. Many doctrines of Scripture are delineated in this book. So this passage had better be clear and understandable. The first few chapters of Genesis were probably written by Adam as he was inspired by the Holy Spirit and then he passed on the written record to Noah. Noah wrote more and passed on the records to Abraham. Abraham wrote more and passed on the records down the line until Moses inherited all the records. He edited them and put it into the form of Genesis through Deuteronomy.

    Do you remember what Jesus said to the Pharisees who were challenging him in John 5:46–47? He said “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But, since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”

    He was telling them that they needed to believe Moses – meaning the first 5 books of the Bible. The clear understanding at that time was a young earth and a global flood. In essence Jesus is saying they need to believe in these things as well. He didn’t qualify that statement to say “You should believe Moses all except for Genesis 1-11.”

  211. @ StephenB 201 continued

    Like I said before, if God had intended us to understand the word “day” in a non-literal sense, or that the creation days were periods of time, He could easily have chosen other words that would have more clearly communicated that. This is huge in my view. Context, which helps us understand the author’s original intent and how other biblical authors interpreted the passage are the two most important principles of hermeneutics and they normally trump all secondary principles.

    1) Context is determined by mostly by linguistics. I gave you a list of grammatical reasons why the Hebrew language of Genesis clearly points to a literal interpretation. I do not believe God would have written Genesis the way He did if He intended a non-literal meaning. That would be truly misleading as is evidenced by the fact that up until the past 200 years, a literal interpretation was the norm. Isn’t this a reasonable argument?

    2) Since all the other biblical writers understood Genesis in a literal sense, isn’t this another strong reason for us to do the same? The idea of progressive revelation is true whether you take an OEC or a YEC position. So I don’t see that as a big factor here, at least certainly not a big enough reason to go against the clear meaning of not only Genesis, but all of Scripture. That sounds unreasonable to me.

    If it weren’t for what modern science tells you, I seriously doubt you would think the Bible teaches an old earth or a local flood. So although you claim to be seeking to understand what the author was trying to communicate, in reality, it seems to me that you are taking what science tells you and reading it into the Bible. You are forced by your OEC views to find a way to deny the author’s clear meaning in certain passages.

    I don’t agree with the idea that somehow the first people were less intellectually capable than we are. If anything, the opposite was true. Adam was just as intellectually capable as you. In fact, before the fall, even more so.
    God’s revelation of knowledge certainly progressed over time, but Genesis is a dependable and accurate description of God’s creative acts.

    And seriously Stephen, if reason is so important to you, why do you throw out reason when it comes to the flood story? If Moses, wanted to make it any clearer that the Flood covered the entire globe, what else could he have said? What more could he have done? He told us:

    “And the water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered” (Genesis 7:19).

    You think God made Noah build that huge ark for a local flood?

    How could a local flood last a year and deposit the ark high in the mountains of Ararat?

    Why take animals on the ark when it was a local flood?

    Why not just send Noah outside of the flood territory?

    What does the rainbow mean if it was simply a local flood?


    I’m very interested in the biblical evidence you have to support your local flood theory.

    I’ll be happy to share the biblical evidence for a global flood if you are interested. And believe it or not, there is even geological evidence for a global flood if you have eyes to see it – which uniformitarians have trouble explaining.

    God’s 7 day ex nihilo creation by His spoken word is a glorious thing!

    (Ps.33:6-9) By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,and by the breath of his mouth all their host.7 He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deeps in storehouses. 8 Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! 9 For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.

    Praising God for His acts of creation is a major theme of the Bible. Creating the world in a perfect state all in 6 days shows God’s wisdom, power, and glory in an amazing way!

    But OECers want us to believe that God created over billions of years and that death(the last enemy – I Cor 15), suffering, bloodshed, competition, and disease were all a part of God’s very good creation from the very beginning!

    Is this reasonable?

    Starting from uniformitarian science, perhaps, but biblically speaking, I don’t think it is. This is where we need to make a choice. Do we trust God’s Word or trust the uniformitarian interpretations of nature that ignore God and the revelation He has given us(ie the global flood)?

    Remember this passage? II Peter 3:3-7

    knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly….10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

    Why did these people deny Jesus’ second coming and universal future judgment? Because they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.

    They deliberately overlooked the flood and said it didn’t happen. Why? Because they were blinded by their uniformitarian ideology and perhaps because they just didn’t want to believe in God’s judgment. Look at v. 4 “…For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” But the Bible tells us something different. All things have not continued as they were from the beginning. There was a global flood among other things.

    Peter is comparing the global judgment by water in Noah’s time with the coming future global judgment by fire when Jesus returns. What meaning would a local flood have here in Peter’s argument? Even uniformitarians accept local floods! Peter is contrasting two universal/global judgments. That is the only way this passage makes sense. He says that because it happened in Noah’s day, we can be sure it will happen again in the future just like Jesus promised.

    And lastly, remember this truth that Paul taught us: Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.” (Romans 3:4.)

    God gives us His truth. Whether we receive it as truth or not is up to us. Even if the whole world came to the conclusion that God did not create the world, still His truth will prevail in the end.

  212. 212

    Timaeus,

    Lame appeals to Origen and Augustine’s minor deviations from standard YEC doesn’t change the fact that the old earth interpretation DID NOT EXIST until modern times. Nobody believed it until modern science told them so. It wasn’t even a possibility from which one could choose, unless you were an atheist who believed not in an old universe but an eternal universe explicitly rejecting God as the first cause and replacing Him with matter.

    I don’t give a crap what anyone labels me. As you remember I openly prefer the modern view of the mind-body problem. But it’s preposterous to suggest that my interpretation of Genesis is the modern one.

  213. tjguy,

    Again, on the subject of Biblical literalism, I hearken back to many of Jesus’ (God’s) comments that reflect clear allegorical meaning. When he says that the “Father causes the sun to rise,” you agree that we should not take his words literally. How do you justify taking that tack given your insistence that we should take ALL of God’s words literally?

    For that matter, why do you not, as Catholics do, take his words literally about the Eucharist. He didn’t say that the consecrated bread is “symbolic” of his body, He said that it IS His body. Further, He insisted that only those who eat His flesh and drink His blood will have life in them. His listeners understood his words literally and they walked away from him scandalized. Why do you not take his words literally? Are you not aware of the fact that the differences in sectarian religions are, in large part, differences of opinion about which of God’s statements are to be taken literally and which ones are not?

    On the matter of the earlier writers, I didn’t say that they were not “intellectually capable” of receiving a scientific message, rather I pointed out that they were not “intellectually prepared.” It is not the same thing.

    –”If it weren’t for what modern science tells you, I seriously doubt you would think the Bible teaches an old earth or a local flood.”

    I don’t think the Bible teaches a local flood, and I don’t think science has proven it. On the other hand, if it was not for modern science, you would not acknowledge that Jesus spoke allegorically with respect to the sun rising. You appear to agree that the earth revolves around the sun, which means that you hold a double standard here and have not resolved it.

    –”So although you claim to be seeking to understand what the author was trying to communicate, in reality, it seems to me that you are taking what science tells you and reading it into the Bible. You are forced by your OEC views to find a way to deny the author’s clear meaning in certain passages.”

    This debate has been going on for two thousand years. It was not introduced by enlightenment partisans or Darwinist atheists.

    –”And seriously Stephen, if reason is so important to you, why do you throw out reason when it comes to the flood story? If Moses, wanted to make it any clearer that the Flood covered the entire globe, what else could he have said? What more could he have done? He told us:

    I think that the flood may well have been global because it seems like a reasonable interpretation given the words and the historical references. I also believe that this world-wide flood can be reconciled with an old earth. As I said earlier, I think that the value of geological science is highly overrated.

    –”You think God made Noah build that huge ark for a local flood?”

    No, I don’t. I think He likely made if for a world-wide flood.

    –” I’m very interested in the biblical evidence you have to support your local flood theory.”

    I don’t have a local-flood theory because I think the flood was likely world-wide event. Would it help if I made the point in capital letters.

    –”I’ll be happy to share the biblical evidence for a global flood if you are interested. And believe it or not, there is even geological evidence for a global flood if you have eyes to see it – which uniformitarians have trouble explaining.”

    Our discussion about the flood has likely come to an end.

  214. tragic:

    I’ve tried to be clear and precise in my wording, but it seems you are still misreading me.

    I had not spoken of the “old earth interpretation” and I did not claim that it existed in pre-modern times. I was responding directly to this:

    “As if it wasn’t the moderns who first denied the historical interpretation of Genesis.”

    I was indicating that Origin and Augustine (among others) did not take all parts of Genesis 1-11 “historically.” I was not implying that they adopted an “old earth” as opposed to a “young” earth interpretation. Both “Old Earth” and “Young Earth” interpretations *as we know them today* are modern interpretations, reactions to the modern historical sciences of cosmology, geology and evolutionary biology.

    Of course the majority of ancient interpreters were “young earth” (without the capitals), in that they took the earth to be young, but the culture-war edge of “young earth” did not exist, because there was no “science and Enlightenment vs the Bible” ethos, such as we have in the modern world from the 18th century on. So it’s technically correct, but materially misleading, to speak of pre-modern Christians as “YECs.” I prefer to say simply that most pre-modern Christians understood the world to be young, not much older than the date back-calculated for the creation of Adam.

    I did not say, in the post above, that your interpretation of Genesis is “the modern one”; I said that your view of reason is the predominant modern one. I was providing that as a point of useful historical information. You can follow up that point by reading Nancy Pearcey, C. S. Lewis, and other authors who hold to the classical view of reason. Whether or not you do that is something over which I have no control.

    In an earlier post, I think I did speak of YEC as *a* modern interpretation of Genesis, a reaction to secularism and materialism which unwisely adopts some of the premises of those positions in the course of trying to refute them; but I did not say that YEC was “the” modern interpretation, since there are many; and in any case, I acknowledge that “young earth” without the capitals and without the cultural overtones of the phrase was certainly the main ancient interpretation.

    However, there are reasons, based not on evolution but on the Biblical text itself, for thinking that the ancient Christians misread parts of Genesis 1-11. There are literary features of the text, and considerations from comparative literature, which seem to shout out: “This is not a chronicle or news report.” It is simply not true that the only motivation for reading Genesis 1-11 non-literally is to make room for the theory of evolution, even if the theory of evolution played an important role in stimulating people to look at Genesis afresh. If a bad motive (say, to harmonize with evolution) induces someone to look at Genesis with fresh eyes, and in that second look the person discovers genuine literary features of the text that he never noticed before, features intended by the author, and this causes him to change his interpretation of Genesis, I see nothing wrong with that. Especially if that same person later rejects Darwinian evolution, while retaining the new reading of Genesis. Such things do happen.

  215. 215

    Well thanks for clarifying your position. The reason there was no argument over a young earth is because that was the only interpretation of Genesis until the modern time. Thanks.

    As for other interpretations of Genesis, I have already stated on this thread that you can read Genesis theologically without the reading ever being exclusive to a young earth. I know YECs who have written books about the theology of Genesis, intentionally staying away from the young earth interpretation. Even Dembski’s karyological interpretation of the eternal consequences of the Fall is not exclusive to a young earth interpretation, despite the fact Dembski’s entire purpose was to eliminate certain theological problems with the old earth view, specifically the existence of death before the Fall.

  216. 216

    I have read most of C.S. Lewis, including The Pilgrim’s Regress, where he meets a character named Reason and eventually rejects it as his ultimate destination, preferring instead the Mother Kirk character, who is the Christ in the story.

    One of my favorite Lewis quotes is from the character Sense trying to convince Lewis to follow himself instead of Reason:

    “Sense is easy, Reason is hard. Sense knows where to stop with gracious inconsistency, while Reason slavishly follows an abstract logic whither she knows not. The one seeks comfort and finds it, the other seeks truth and is still seeking.”

    Lewis would have agreed with Sense about Reason here. Reason can never find Truth on its own. That’s why Lewis rejected both and instead found Christ as the source of Truth.

  217. tragic (215, 216):

    As I have not read every single Christian document ever written from the time of Christ up to the Enlightenment, I would hesitate to say that “young earth” was the “only” interpretation up to modern times. But it was certainly the predominant one.

    My point was not about young earth vs old earth. It was that not every statement in Genesis 1-11 was read historically in pre-modern times — not even by writers of unimpeachable orthodoxy. Augustine’s notion of instantaneous creation (not over six literal days) is a case in point. So the non-historical reading is not, as you suggested, generated exclusively by the need to cope with evolution or geology. It can have other sources. There are good literary and philosophical reasons for not reading parts of Genesis (and certain other parts of the Bible) as straight chronicle.

    I realize that no YEC will accept a non-historical reading of any part of Genesis. I am not trying to get you to change your position. I’m merely indicating the variety of motivations for non-historical readings. It’s not *always* the case that the motivation is to pay homage to the alleged results of modern science. Maybe most of the time that is a conscious or unconscious motivation. But not all of the time. That’s all I have to say on that topic.

    Regarding Lewis, of course he did not think that reason alone could bring one to Christ. The point was that, in his employment of reason, whether his subject is ethics or politics or apologetics, he regularly shows a preference for the ancients over the moderns. He thinks more like Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero than he thinks like Hobbes, Hume, Bacon, Kant, etc. He does not see reason as simply a tool for reckoning correctly. Its very existence is tied in with a larger metaphysical and epistemological picture. The discussion of the sun, the line, and the cave in the Republic may help you to see this.

    The question of how Genesis is to be read is a separate one from the point I’m making about reason. But of course, as you know, Lewis did not take every sentence in Genesis 1-11 as historical chronicle. So he is a good example of what I am talking about — someone with non-modern motivations for not reading parts of Genesis literally. Augustine and Origen are a couple of other examples. I’m not asking you to agree with any of these people’s remarks on Genesis. I’m just pointing out that, as far as “evolutionary motivation” goes, these people are entirely in the clear.

  218. 218

    If I were an English teacher I’d be asking you for textual evidence right now. It’s all the rage these days.

    But I’m not, so I’ll simply direct you to the passage where Lewis talks about various philosophical viewpoints as lenses which must be tried on in order to evaluate them. Whichever lens brings the world into the sharpest focus is the best one. He chose Christianity because of that long process of trying on different lenses. I believe the process he went through was described by yours truly a few posts ago. Don’t ask me for a reference until you bring me one of your own. The ancients I don’t know. Lewis I do. And he understood very well that there were vast differences between the way they thought and the way moderns thought, expressing something of astonishment at it (Reflections on the Psalms), and he was also skeptical that modern people could somehow travel back into ancient times and interpret those texts through the ancients’ lens. He didn’t believe it was possible, in part because in his experience as an author, people who shared his own worldview and even his own language always read into his writings things that weren’t there. Because of this he doubted anything of the sort could be done with ancient literature, even though he was an expert on it. (This discussion is in one of the essays of either God in the Dock or Christian Reflections.) When it came down to it, he chose to take the ancients at their word and not try to read anything into it. As far as I know, there are no writings of Lewis commenting on Genesis. I’d be obliged if you could find me somewhere that he does. Maybe you could look for it while you’re looking for where Lewis explains his views on Reason.

    If I can’t trust you to interpret Lewis accurately, why should I trust you to interpret the Greeks or the church fathers? Lewis I’m sure would have thought that a reasonable question.

  219. 219

    He did however comment on what he called the Popular Myth of Evolution, and came strikingly close to the contemporary ID critique of it, noting that Haldane described evolution as being harmful nine times out of ten.

    “I shall keep my Cave-Man where I keep Balder and Helen and the Argonauts; and there often revisit him.”

    ~C.S. Lewis

    That essay is online here:

    http://fpb.livejournal.com/297710.html

  220. 220

    “To the biologist, Evolution is a hypothesis. It covers more of the facts than any other hypothesis at present on the market, and is therefore to be accepted unless, or until, some new supposal can be shown to cover still more facts with even fewer assumptions. At least, that is what I think most biologists would say. Professor D.M.S. Watson, it is true, would not go so far. According to him, “Evolution is accepted by zoologists not because it has been observed to occur or… can be proved by logically coherent evidence to be true, but because the only alternative, special creation, is clearly incredible.” (Watson, quoted in Nineteenth Century, April 1943, “Science and the BBC”.) This would mean that the sole ground for believing it is not empirical but metaphysical – the dogma of an amateur metaphysician who finds “special creation” incredible. But I do not think it has really come to that. Most biologists have a more robust belief in Evolution than Professor Watson. But it is certainly a hypothesis. In the Myth, however, there is nothing hypothetical about it: it is basic fact; or, to speak more strictly, such distinctions do not exist on the mythical level at all. There are more important differences to follow.

    In the science, Evolution is a theory about changes: in the Myth, it is a fact about improvements. Thus a real scientist like Professor J.B.S. Haldane is at pains to point out that popular ideas of Evolution lay a wholly unjustified emphasis on those changes which have rendered creatures (by human standards) ‘better’ or more interesting. He adds, ‘We are therefore inclined to regard progress as the rule in evolution. Actually it is the exception, and for every case of it there are ten of degeneration.’ (“Darwinism Today, Possible Worlds, p.28.).”

    ~C.S. Lewis

  221. tragic (218):

    I perceive that you are one of those people who finds it very hard to ever concede a point in argument. That’s too bad. Being able to admit that someone has taught you something, instead of feeling you have to reflexively oppose everything he says, can be very relaxing.

    As for Lewis, you’ve deeply misunderstood his position on the interpretation of older literature. He was a very competent Medieval and Renaissance scholar, and the business of his work as a literary critic was in fact to get the modern reader face-to-face with what these older texts were saying. He was of course aware that modern ideas act as a screen to obscure the meaning of older texts, but that is what the scholar is supposed to do — remove, as far as humanly possible, such barriers, and bring the modern reader into contact with the living ideas of the texts.

    Indeed, if this is not possible, there is no hope at all that a modern reader can be sure that his understanding of the Bible is what the Biblical authors intended, and then it’s bye-bye, YEC.

    To say that you don’t know the ancients, but that you do know Lewis, is like saying you don’t know math, but you do know physics. Lewis’s thought was steeped in the ancients — Greek and Roman literature, the Church Fathers, and less ancient, but still pre-modern, Medieval and Renaissance literature. If you don’t the first thing about Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Arthurian legend, etc., you are not going to fully understand Lewis. You’ll have a rough idea of his general positions, but crystal clarity will elude you, because you won’t understand how he is using the ancient material. Nor will you be able to exercise critical judgment on whether he is using that material well.

    I regret that I can’t remember where I read Lewis’s comments on Genesis — they might have been passing remarks in a letter. (He often replied to queries by American fundamentalists, trying to expand their rather narrow interpretation of Christianity.) But he indicated that he did not take all the details of the Garden story literally. (Which is not the same thing as denying a Fall, but it is the same thing as denying the historicity of certain parts of Genesis.)

    There is no one spot where “Lewis explains his views on reason.” His view of reason is implicit in everything he writes. And it’s deeply Classical. I realize that is a hard pill for a YEC admirer of Lewis to swallow, but the facts are the facts.

  222. tragic:

    Despite what I have said above about your misunderstanding Lewis on some points, I offer my congratulations to you for standing up to the slanted (bordering on academically dishonest) presentation of Lewis offered by Michael Peterson on BioLogos. You and I seem to be on the same page regarding Lewis and evolution. I hope that sometime down the road you will see the connection between Lewis’s doubts, especially in later life, about evolution, and Lewis’s classical rationality. Evolution is the natural conclusion of the line of philosophical thought running from Hobbes through Kant; but a Platonist like Lewis will of course reject the premises of that line of thought.

  223. 223

    I’m open to being wrong and changing my mind when presented with evidence. You have presented none.

  224. tragic mishap (223):

    You want evidence for my claim about ancient vs modern reason? I don’t have time to retype all of Nancy Pearcey’s books for you on this site. I gave you her name; most of her writing in one way or another deals with the abandonment of the classical idea of reason in modern Western thought. If you would read her stuff, she would direct you to plenty of primary sources. I also already mentioned to you a particular primary source — Plato’s Republic. If you compare that with the account of reason given in Part I of Hobbes’s Leviathan, you should be able to see the difference. There are also numerous other works you could read, starting with Eric Voegelin’s commentary on Plato, and some general works on medieval philosophy by the likes of Gilson and Copleston, but I have the impression that the history of philosophy is not your favorite reading material.

    As for the rest of the points I have been making, most of them were not in fact in disagreement with you, but rather, clarifications to show that I wasn’t disagreeing with you, because you had misunderstood what I was saying. But you have brushed off my clarifications without comment, so it’s obvious that the moment for constructive conversation on this thread has passed.

    I congratulate you again for standing up to Peterson. And if it’s any comfort, I’m confident that he is going to lose the war over Lewis’s views on evolution. There is too much good scholarship on Lewis to allow such distortions to stand.

  225. Timaeus, I wonder if I can respond to something you said in post 217:

    “… I would hesitate to say that “young earth” was the “only” interpretation up to modern times. But it was certainly the predominant one.”

    Agreed! It was the predominant one and even Augustine, Origen, and Philo were young earthers in spite of their non-literal interpretation of Genesis.

    Philo is not a very trustworthy source from which to gain an accurate understanding of Genesis. His whole method of interpretation was allegorical. He didn’t need any textual justification to make an allegorical interpretation. That was his standard interpretation, so, with a faulty method like that, it really doesn’t help the OECers case at all. I think we would all agree that his ideas are way off base. But, even so, it is interesting that even Philo believed in a young earth and a literal 6 day creation!

    Here is a quote from Philo: “The nation of the Jews keep every seventh day regularly, after each interval of six days; and there is an account of events recorded in the history of the creation of the world, comprising a sufficient relation of the cause of this ordinance; for the sacred historian says, that the world was created in six days, and that on the seventh day God desisted from his works, and began to contemplate what he had so beautifully created.” (On the Decalogue XX,97)

    Here is what Clement had to say in Stromata 6.16:
    “For the creation of the world was concluded in six days. For the motion of the sun from solstice to solstice is completed in six months— in the course of which, at one time the leaves fall, and at another plants bud and seeds come to maturity. And they say that the embryo is perfected exactly in the sixth month, that is, in one hundred and eighty days in addition to the two and a half, as Polybus the physician relates in his book On the Eighth Month, and Aristotle the philosopher in his book On Nature.”

    He believes clearly that God created the world in 6 days.

    How about Augustine? Yes, earlier in his life he leaned toward an allegorical interpretation of the days, but he was a YECer all the way through.

    Augustine: ‘Let us, then, omit the conjectures of men who know not what they say, when they speak of the nature and origin of the human race. … They are deceived, too, by those highly mendacious documents which profess to give the history of many thousand years, though, reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not 6000 years have yet passed.’ Augustine, Of the Falseness of the History Which Allots Many Thousand Years to the World’s Past, De Civitate Dei (The City of God), 12(10).

    As you mentioned, he believed in the instantaneous creation of the universe, not in long ages. And over the course of his life, he became more and more historical in his interpretation of Genesis. His book “On Genesis Literally Interpreted” (notice the title) was written toward the end of his life and in it he renounces all allegorical and typological interpretation like he had used in his previous exegesis of Genesis. He even believed in a literal Adam and Eve and a literal Garden of Eden. In this work, he is seeking to show that even when taken literally, there is no conflict between the Bible and science. In Genesis 1:7, where it speaks of the waters above the earth, Augustine takes the attitude that God’s Word is trustworthy so we should trust it believing that we will find an answer in the future to the problem. He can not legitimately be used to support OEC interpretations of Genesis, unless you take some quotes out of context. All you can say is that early in his life, having been influenced by Origen and the Alexandria school of allegory, he thought that creation was spontaneous as opposed to 6 long 24 hour days.

    And even Origen himself, like has been shown to be true of Augustine, actually believed in a young earth. He clearly understood that the Bible teaches a young earth.

    Origen: ‘After these statements, Celsus, from a secret desire to cast discredit upon the Mosaic account of the creation, which teaches that the world is not yet ten thousand years old, but very much under that, while concealing his wish, intimates his agreement with those who hold that the world is uncreated. For, maintaining that there have been, from all eternity, many conflagrations and many deluges, and that the flood which lately took place in the time of Deucalion is comparatively modern, he clearly demonstrates to those who are able to understand him, that, in his opinion, the world was uncreated. But let this assailant of the Christian faith tell us by what arguments he was compelled to accept the statement that there have been many conflagrations and many cataclysms, and that the flood which occurred in the time of Deucalion, and the conflagration in that of Phaethon, were more recent than any others.’ Contra Celsum (Against Celsus) 1.19, Ante-Nicene Fathers4:404.

    For a careful, thorough survey of historical views on the days of creation, see J.P. Lewis’ The Days of Creation: an historical survey of interpretation, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society32(4):433-455, 1989. Another good source is The Genesis Debate by: J. Ligon Duncan III, David W. Hall, Lee Irons, Hugh Ross Global Publishing Services / 2002 / Paperback They could have done a better job backing up the YEC view, but at least they gave a good summary of the historical interpretation of the word day.

    “My point was not about young earth vs old earth. It was that not every statement in Genesis 1-11 was read historically in pre-modern times — not even by writers of unimpeachable orthodoxy. Augustine’s notion of instantaneous creation (not over six literal days) is a case in point. So the non-historical reading is not, as you suggested, generated exclusively by the need to cope with evolution or geology. It can have other sources.”

    Again I agree with you. Not everyone in the past who interpreted Genesis in a non-literal fashion did so in order to fit evolution into the Scripture, but these days, I think that is far ans away the main reason for a non-literal approach. Like I said, Augustine did understand the Bible to teach a young earth, even when he used a non-literal interpretation of the word “day”. That idea is worlds apart from the OEC interpretation of Scripture. And like you said, the young earth and literal interpretation of Genesis was the predominant one of the Jews and the early Church fathers. This is the important point. If all these people were wrong, then God really did a poor job of communicating His truth to us. If the OEC interpretation is the meaning God intended to communicate to us, then we have misunderstood His Word for thousands of years and only in the last 200 years, thanks to anti-biblical geologists like Hutton and Lyell, do we now have the right interpretation. Is that what you think?

    “There are good literary and philosophical reasons for not reading parts of Genesis (and certain other parts of the Bible) as straight chronicle.”

    Here, I am not so sure that I agree. I’m interested in knowing what the “good literary” reasons for not reading parts of Genesis as straight chronicle” are.

    In post number 200, I listed a good number of textual reasons that support a plain reading of Genesis one. In light of those reasons, I wonder what your reasons are for doing the opposite.

    Although there may be some YECers who hold to an overly literalistic hermeneutic, this is certainly not true of most of us. We do not “a priori” deny the presence of metaphor, symbolism, or idiom, as you seem to be insinuating, but we believe there needs to be a good CONTECXTUAL reason for interpreting ‘day’ as anything other than a normal day. Indeed, this is the way you would read most letters and books.

    tj

  226. 226

    I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear, Timaeus.

    I don’t believe that my conception of Reason is any different than Lewis’. I’m taking your word for it that my conception of Reason is the “modern” one. But then you said that Lewis’ conception of Reason is the ancient one. I’m extremely familiar with Lewis and I don’t believe my conception of Reason is vastly different than his. All I’m saying here is that either you’re wrong about my conception of Reason being the “modern” one, or you’re wrong about Lewis’ conception being the “ancient” one.

    I don’t claim to know which of your assertions is wrong. I claim that one of them must be. I’m simply not familiar with the distinction you are making. Thanks for your reading suggestions. I may actually check that out.

    I have already read Plato’s Republic. The analogy of the cave was meant to apply to the process of education, so I’m not too clear on what it has to do with Reason. My understanding of it is that we are all bound to looking at shadows and must free ourselves to turn and see the light, and the role of the teacher is to perfect the “art of turning” the students’ heads to look at the light. I believe they were also meant to walk out into the light before coming back to help the others in shadows.

    If living in the shadows is analogous to earthly, physical existence, and the light is spiritual existence, then I would say Reason is process by which we proceed from one to the other and back again. Plato I assume meant the earth to be one and the light to be the Platonic ideal, the world of perfect forms. So if he means Reason to be that process, first of turning, then of walking into the light, than I’m in agreement. But if he maintains that Reason is the light itself, than I’d probably disagree. And I think Lewis would have as well.

  227. 227

    There’s a third possibility: You’re wrong that there is a difference between the ancient conception of Reason and the modern one. Again I don’t know.

  228. StephenB @ 213

    Again, on the subject of Biblical literalism, I hearken back to many of Jesus’ (God’s) comments that reflect clear allegorical meaning. When he says that the “Father causes the sun to rise,” you agree that we should not take his words literally. How do you justify taking that tack given your insistence that we should take ALL of God’s words literally?

    StephenB, why do you insist that since I take Genesis 1 literally, I have to take everything else in the Bible literally as well?

    You misunderstand the historical grammatical hermeneutical method. And, this misunderstanding causes you to falsely claim that I am being inconsistent when I don’t interpret everything Jesus said in a literal method. Very few YECers if any hold to that view. No wonder you don’t think a literal view of Genesis is accurate or trustworthy. Perhaps if you get a better more accurate understanding of the historical grammatical hermeneutic method, you might be more open to it.

    Although there may be a few YECers who hold to an overly literalistic hermeneutic, this is certainly not true of most of us. We do not “a priori” deny the presence of metaphor, symbolism, or idiom, as you seem to be insinuating, but we believe there needs to be a good CONTECXTUAL reason for interpreting ‘day’ as anything other than a normal day. Indeed, this is the way you would read most letters and books – even this correspondence between the two of us. It is the normal method of communication.

    I gave you the reasons why I think Genesis 1 was meant to be taken literally. You did not interact with those grammatical and textual reasons at all. In my mind, they are very strong reasons and since this is the normal way of interpreting most of what we read, the onus is on the OECers to show us why we should not read it in this way. Given the strong textual support in Genesis 1, the interpretation of the Church throughout history, and the interpretation of Genesis in a literal way by other Scriptural writers, and Jesus’ own words, you would need some extremely persuasive reasons.

    For that matter, why do you not, as Catholics do, take his words literally about the Eucharist. He didn’t say that the consecrated bread is “symbolic” of his body, He said that it IS His body. Further, He insisted that only those who eat His flesh and drink His blood will have life in them. His listeners understood his words literally and they walked away from him scandalized. Why do you not take his words literally? Are you not aware of the fact that the differences in sectarian religions are, in large part, differences of opinion about which of God’s statements are to be taken literally and which ones are not?

    For the same reason we don’t take “I am the door” literally. The Roman Catholic Church does not even take that literally. No one literally ate his flesh or drank his blood ever. He died and was buried and then rose again. He was eaten by no one. So obviously, He was not telling people to literally eat Him.

    This chapter though is a great example of how and why it is sometimes necessary to take things in a symbolic manner. In this interaction with the Jews, Jesus was clearly speaking in a non-literal fashion all the way through. This passage is littered with analogies, symbolism, and metaphors. He tells them “I am the bread of life.” Obviously Jesus was a person and not bread and everyone understands that he was not speaking in a literal fashion. It is clear what is intended here, so there is no dispute.

    As you know, Jesus often spoke in parables and sometimes even spoke about deliberately hiding the truth from some of the Jews. In fact, this was the purpose for some of his non-literal teaching. Besides, this a historical record of Jesus’ interaction with the Jews and in this type of conversation, we tend to use analogies and symbols more often than when we record a historical event like in Genesis.

    On the matter of the earlier writers, I didn’t say that they were not “intellectually capable” of receiving a scientific message, rather I pointed out that they were not “intellectually prepared.” It is not the same thing.

    OK, thanks for clarifying that. Still, Adam, Eve, and their descendants surely would have been “intellectually prepared” to understand the difference between a short 24 hour period of time and long ages. That is all that had to be communicated and yet, God chose to communicate in a way that for most of history, the Church and His people, the Jews would overwhelmingly understand creation to have happened in 6 literal 24 hour days.

    The Bible is God’s special revelation and its purpose is to communicate specific truth to ALL humanity, past, present and future.

    In order to accomplish this, God employed common human language as the medium for His message. The biblical account of creation does not discuss the question of whether God can meaningfully speak to mankind or whether mankind can accurately understand God. It is simply assumed this as ‘self-evident’. God made man with this capability.

    –”If it weren’t for what modern science tells you, I seriously doubt you would think the Bible teaches an old earth or a local flood.”

    I don’t think the Bible teaches a local flood, and I don’t think science has proven it. On the other hand, if it was not for modern science, you would not acknowledge that Jesus spoke allegorically with respect to the sun rising. You appear to agree that the earth revolves around the sun, which means that you hold a double standard here and have not resolved it.

    Stephen, first you said that you are open to a global flooe IF the Bible demands it. Then, when I took this as a positive belief in the flood, you countered with this: “I am open to the prospect that it may not have been a world-wide flood because I am not sure that Scripture requires that interpretation.” So, you said you were open to that prospect, because you weren’t convinced the Bible teaches a global flood. But now you say that you do believe in a global flood. I’m a bit confused here by what you are trying to say. It seems as if your beliefs are evolving before my eyes. I take that to mean that you never really gave it much thought or actually studied the issue. If I am right on that point, you have never given much thought to the impact that belief in a global flood would have on OEC ideas.

    Anyway, now we have a clear statement here that you DO believe in a global flood. We’re making progress! That means of course that you must be willing to turn your back on the conclusions of modern day paleontologists and uniformitarian geologists because the flood obviously messes up their “scientific” interpretations.

    –”So although you claim to be seeking to understand what the author was trying to communicate, in reality, it seems to me that you are taking what science tells you and reading it into the Bible. You are forced by your OEC views to find a way to deny the author’s clear meaning in certain passages.”

    This debate has been going on for two thousand years. It was not introduced by enlightenment partisans or Darwinist atheists.

    No, this debate has not been around for 2000 years. What evidence do you have to support that statement? By far the overwhelming interpretation of the early Church was a young earth. There may have been some rare birds who had a similar interpretation before Hutton and Lyell, but they were few and far between. Even Augustine, Origen, and Philo, who sometimes followed the allegorical method of interpretation, all believed in a young earth! See the previous post to Timaeus that I wrote. There was no controversy about that back then. These are the guys that biologos always uses to try and justify their interpretation of Genesis, but they were young earthers!

    I think that the flood may well have been global because it seems like a reasonable interpretation given the words and the historical references. I also believe that this world-wide flood can be reconciled with an old earth. As I said earlier, I think that the value of geological science is highly overrated.

    OK, here is another clear statement. So, Stephen, may I ask you then what makes you believe in an old earth? Can you tell me why you think the earth is old? What is your scientific evidence for an old earth?

  229. tragic:

    Yes, the Republic is partly about education and the cave image is also partly about education. But the cave image is connected with the images of the sun and the line. And the sun is the source not only of the knowledge but even of the being of the knower. In other words, knowledge and being itself are intimately connected. There is no such connection in most modern philosophers. For most modern philosophers, reason is just a tool, handy to have, useful for calculating things and manipulating the external world, but not intrinsically connected with ultimate reality, and therefore unable to teach us anything about that reality. Modern philosophy expects only a lower kind of knowledge from reason. This is often called “the instrumental view of reason.”

    Many Protestants accept this view, because they believe that all higher knowledge is accessible only through revelation. StephenB, a Catholic, sees both reason and revelation as pathways to higher knowledge. I’m not Catholic, but I hold a similar view.

    However, in the interest of intellectual caution and of justice, I’ll say that my original comment, linking your understanding of reason with that of modern philosophy, was based on one particular passage in one of your replies to someone else, and that is not enough of a sample on which to characterize someone’s view. I might well have read far too much into what you were saying. So I’ll withdraw that charge, as overly conjectural.

    In any case, we have discovered that we both like C. S. Lewis, so we now have some common ground. Whether we like the same things in Lewis, and for the same reasons, I am not sure. For me, anyway, what sets Lewis above many Protestant evangelical thinkers is that he has a tremendous respect for Classical philosophy and culture. Much of the strength and beauty of his presentation of Christianity comes from that. But that is a topic for another time, and another thread.

  230. Thanks, tjguy.

    Vincent Torley wrote an extensive post here on Philo and Origen, which I have read, so I’m aware of the information you have presented on them. I don’t contest Vincent’s arguments. Regarding Origen, however, despite his
    position on the age of the earth, he indicated a strongly non-literal approach to some other parts of Genesis in his book, On First Principles.

    As I said above, I’m not particularly concerned with the details of “old earth” exegesis. I wasn’t defending that line of textual reading. It seems to have arisen out of a need to harmonize a semi-literal reading of Genesis with the alleged truths of modern geology, biology, etc. Such harmonizations have no attraction for me.

    Regarding Augustine, I’ve actually studied his book that you are talking about, De Genesi ad Literam, and, despite its title, it offers some allegorical reading, along the lines of Philo, of the early chapters of Genesis. What most people don’t know is that the word “literal” had a much broader meaning in ancient hermeneutics than it does today. There is actually a more literal reading of Genesis, in the modern sense of “literal,” in Augustine’s City of God.

    To see the good literary reasons for reading Genesis (and some other parts of the Bible) differently, you will have to step outside of the world of conservative evangelical exegesis. In the scholarly landscape that you are probably used to, the “higher critics” and the “literalists” battled to the death. The newer Biblical scholars are much less concerned with trying to uncover “what actually happened back then” and much more concerned with “what does the story mean”?

    This does not mean that the historicity of Biblical events is denied; rather, the historicity or non-historicity is not in the front and center of the scholar’s research.

    So, for example, whereas a higher-critical scholar may dismiss the Garden story entirely as a crude fable, and a literalist will insist that Christian faith requires the Fall and therefore requires the belief that a snake talked in human speech to the first woman about the virtues of a magical tree, a narratological approach takes seriously *both* the claim that the story teaches about a Fall *and* the sort of literary details which caused the higher critics to doubt that every event in the narrative was meant to be taken as historical.

    If you want an introduction to the narratological approach, though one with not much direct discussion of Genesis 1-11, read Alter’s Art of Biblical Narrative. If you want to see that sort of reading applied to Genesis, have a look at the comments of Denis Lamoureux on the pattern of days in Genesis 1 and the narrative pattern in the Flood story.

    I don’t think you will find narratological approaches wholly compatible with your view of Scripture. I’m therefore not trying to sell you on them. I mention them only as examples of serious scholarship which would read the Garden story non-historically without being motivated by the need to please evolutionary biologists.

  231. For Timaeus @ 230

    Vincent Torley wrote an extensive post here on Philo and Origen, which I have read, so I’m aware of the information you have presented on them. I don’t contest Vincent’s arguments. Regarding Origen, however, despite his position on the age of the earth, he indicated a strongly non-literal approach to some other parts of Genesis in his book, On First Principles.

    Yes, this was basically his whole approach to Scripture. He was extreme in his approach to Scripture so he isn’t a very good person to use to try and find a reason to ignore the plain meaning of the words. Thanks for the tip on the post by Vincent Torley on Philo and Origen. I guess I missed that one. I’ll take a look at it.

    Regarding Augustine, I’ve actually studied his book that you are talking about, De Genesi ad Literam, and, despite its title, it offers some allegorical reading, along the lines of Philo, of the early chapters of Genesis. What most people don’t know is that the word “literal” had a much broader meaning in ancient hermeneutics than it does today. There is actually a more literal reading of Genesis, in the modern sense of “literal,” in Augustine’s City of God.

    To see the good literary reasons for reading Genesis (and some other parts of the Bible) differently, you will have to step outside of the world of conservative evangelical exegesis. In the scholarly landscape that you are probably used to, the “higher critics” and the “literalists” battled to the death. The newer Biblical scholars are much less concerned with trying to uncover “what actually happened back then” and much more concerned with “what does the story mean”?

    Hmm. Well, I’m pretty set on the historical grammatical method of interpretation, but I am interested in understanding the narratological approach.

    This does not mean that the historicity of Biblical events is denied; rather, the historicity or non-historicity is not in the front and center of the scholar’s research.

    I think for those of us concerned with upholding biblical authority, we view both things as important. The meaning comes out of the historical event so it is hard to separate the two. In other words, it is not a parable, but a true historical event.

    So, for example, whereas a higher-critical scholar may dismiss the Garden story entirely as a crude fable, and a literalist will insist that Christian faith requires the Fall and therefore requires the belief that a snake talked in human speech to the first woman about the virtues of a magical tree, a narratological approach takes seriously *both* the claim that the story teaches about a Fall *and* the sort of literary details which caused the higher critics to doubt that every event in the narrative was meant to be taken as historical.

    What does “take seriously” mean? This sounds exactly like the historical grammatical approach. We just believe that God’s Word means what it says and even if we can’t understand a talking snake. The important thing is what God tells us in His Word. Sometimes there is also a secondary meaning that can be understood from the historical event such as the deliverance out of Egypt. This is seen as a picture of our salvation and Jesus leading us out of sin, but it doesn’t mean that the event was not historical at all. Both are true. So if God tells us there was a talking snake or a talking donkey, then we trust Him as opposed to fallible modern people who were not present to either verify or disprove the story.

    If you want an introduction to the narratological approach, though one with not much direct discussion of Genesis 1-11, read Alter’s Art of Biblical Narrative. If you want to see that sort of reading applied to Genesis, have a look at the comments of Denis Lamoureux on the pattern of days in Genesis 1 and the narrative pattern in the Flood story.

    I don’t think you will find narratological approaches wholly compatible with your view of Scripture. I’m therefore not trying to sell you on them. I mention them only as examples of serious scholarship which would read the Garden story non-historically without being motivated by the need to please evolutionary biologists.

    I think you are right. I doubt I will find it compatible or acceptable, but like I said, I would like to at least familiarize myself with it. Is this your particular view? If so, I wonder if you could tell me why you think this is the best approach to Scripture. Thanks.

    You say that this is an example of a method of interpretation that has nothing to do with the need to please evolutionary biologists, but it seems to me that it has a lot to do with finding a way to read evolution into Scripture. I just took a look at Denis Lamoureux’s web page and it is all about science and religion. He is a professor of science and religion so I don’t quite understand what you mean here. He believes in “evolutionary creation” and wrote a book entitled “I love Jesus and i accept evolution”. Sounds to me like he is clearly trying to fit evolution into the Bible.

    He claims that “the purpose of the Bible is to teach us that God is the Creator, and not how the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit created.”

    That is a nice opinion and I have heard it before, but I wonder how he knows this to be true. If that is all God intended for us to understand from the creation account, if that is the only purpose of the Bible, then it would seem to me that it could have been a lot shorter. But it is not. There are 3 whole chapters on the creation story and they form the very foundation of the Bible and are quoted throughout the Bible as literal history. So, it seems God wanted us to know a bit more than just the fact that He created everything. That fact is repeated throughout the Scripture, but here, He goes into more detail. He actually tells us some of the “how” concerning creation in Genesis. So that is where we would differ. Denis would dismiss what God said about the “how” because he doesn’t believe the Bible is a book of science. Neither do I, but as God’s Word, I believe it is true and inerrant, so I do believe that it is accurate wherever it touches science. We are dealing with the authority of God’s Word here and this is a serious issue to me.

    And the flood is a good example of why we need to start with the Bible when we interpret God’s creation. Without knowledge of the flood, we would come up with uniformitarian ideas that would be far from the truth. We would tend to think evolution occurred by looking at the fossil record as having been laid down over millions of years, but the flood makes it clear that this is not the right interpretation of the fossil record.

    cheers,

    Jim

  232. tjguy:

    I wasn’t offering Lamoureux as someone who isn’t motivated by evolution. He certainly is motivated by evolution. I was offering Lamoureux as someone who has employed a narratological approach to the creation and flood stories, whose ideas are easy of access because there is an introductory article discussing those stories on his university web site. Of course, his ideas in that essay are not original, but derivative. Those narrative features of those stories were noticed years before Lamoureux discussed them, by narratologically inclined Biblical scholars. In fact, the days pattern was noticed decades if not centuries ago, long before “narratological interpretation” appeared as a term in Biblical studies.

    However, the fact that Lamoureux is externally motivated doesn’t by itself make his textual observations on those two passages wrong. The text certainly reveals the literary patterns he points out. You can resist his interpretation, but you can’t deny the literary facts on which it is based, because they are straight out of Scripture.

    Many others, however, aren’t in the slightest preoccupied by making room for evolution. Alter, for example, whom I mentioned, is Jewish professor of English literature who is interested in narratological approaches to the Bible out of his interest in literature generally. He couldn’t care less about creationism, ID, Darwin, etc.

    C. S. Lewis didn’t take everything in the Garden story literally, and that’s certainly not because he was trying to make room for evolution. His belief in evolution was never terribly strong, and in later life he had serious doubts about it, as his private correspondence shows. And Augustine, who thought that creation was simultaneous rather than over six days, has been mentioned somewhere above. Augustine didn’t believe in evolution, either. So it’s clear that non-literal readings of Genesis don’t have to be motivated by evolution.

    My own view is that these questions should be approached in light of the literary features of the Biblical stories, rather than in light of later theology. That doesn’t mean that later theology should be ignored, but only that the original meaning of a story may be different from the one it acquires later, in light of the reflection of future generations. For example, as originally written, Genesis 3 doesn’t teach anything about a general “Fall of nature.” In later Biblical writings, there are some hints of something like that, but nothing is well-developed. It is only in post-Biblical tradition that a “Fall of nature with the Fall of man” idea becomes fixed in some Christians’ minds. This doesn’t make the later idea wrong, but it’s always good to keep what Genesis actually says separate from later readings of Genesis.

    I think that the inerrancy and authority of the Biblical stories should be attached to what they teach, not to the historical accuracy of individual sentences. I don’t think the Fall story “teaches” that a talking snake tempted a woman into eating the fruit of a magical tree. I think the Fall story teaches that man voluntarily separated (and continues to separate) himself from simple obedience to God, in the name of autonomy, and that this choice had (and has) consequences of a destructive kind. The narrative details of the story are not what we should be insisting on. You will probably differ. If so, there is nothing I can do about it. These interpretive judgments are never based on one piece of evidence, or one knockdown logical inference. They are part of a wider set of considerations picked up over a lifetime of study, and neither one of us is likely to change a well-developed and long-held position as a result of a single internet conversation.

    All that I’m suggesting to you is that you read people like Alter, to get the feel for how modern Biblical scholars — those who are outside the whole creation vs evolution sphere of combat — approach many of the stories in the Bible. If you don’t agree with what you read, no one is forcing you to accept it. But it can’t hurt you to read something new, and see what world-class scholars outside the conservative evangelical world are thinking.

    I certainly don’t agree with you about the Flood, and we don’t need anything as sophisticated as geological theory to determine that a global Flood did not occur at the dates indicated by the Biblical genealogies. Our ancient historical records alone are enough to establish that. A Flood might have occurred much earlier, of course, but not at the time indicated. But I don’t take the Biblical genealogies — certainly not the ones for the earliest period — as accurate; in fact, I don’t even think they were intended to be taken literally. For that matter, I don’t think most of the details of the Flood story were meant to be taken literally. You will doubtless disagree, but again, we can’t settle that without a long study of ancient literature and comparative religion and hermeneutics.

    I add that I’ve learned a great respect for many YEC people that I’ve met while working to promote ID. I think the motivations of YECs are noble and I like their courage and their willingness to hold on to unpopular views rather than just go with the flow in order to be thought of as up-to-date. I just think their Biblical hermeneutics are of a narrow kind that don’t do justice to the richness and variety of the Biblical stories. Thus, I don’t think they should change their view in order to please science or in order to please other aspects of the secular world; I think they should change their view because the Bible is a deeper book, and one less concerned with accurate history, than they suppose it to be. But we can’t thrash that out here. I leave you with my reading suggestions, and I think I now have to exit this thread.

  233. 233

    Timaeus @229

    Interesting:

    In other words, knowledge and being itself are intimately connected. There is no such connection in most modern philosophers. For most modern philosophers, reason is just a tool, handy to have, useful for calculating things and manipulating the external world, but not intrinsically connected with ultimate reality, and therefore unable to teach us anything about that reality.

    I think the modern view you describe probably comes from the improper identification of natural science with Reason. I don’t ascribe to that. In my understanding, natural science is backwards reasoning, though still legitimate. From this description it definitely sounds like I’m more with the ancient conception here.

    I’ve described this before, but here it is again.

    I identify three parts of a man, which are identical to the three parts of the Trinity: Body (Jesus), Mind (Holy Spirit), Spirit (God the Father). As a substance dualist I say there are two realms, a physical and a spiritual. The Body exists in the physical and the Spirit exists in the spiritual. The Mind is the connector between the two. I explicitly identify the Mind with Reason as its chief function and the primary method of connecting Body with Spirit, thus connecting our physical selves with our spiritual selves.

    So in other words, if we are to receive anything from the Spirit, either our own Spirit or from God the Father, it is automatically through the process of Reason or the Holy Spirit, respectively, or it doesn’t happen. I’ve found a lot of support for this view in the New Testament. (1 Cor 1-2 and 14, Col 1-2, Rom 8 and 12:1-2, John 3)

  234. BA:

    Very interestingly, despite the fact that most people believe that it is a scientifically proven “fact” that the speed of light has always been the same as it is now, it most certainly is not. The current speed of light is an observable scientific fact. We cannot, however, know with certainty what the speed of light was before observations of the speed of light were made. This assertion is not in the least controversial. Mainstream scientists admit that their assumptions about the fixed nature of the speed of light in the remote past are just that, assumptions.

    While I perfectly understand this line of reasoning, I must, however, disagree with its conclusion. I believe that Young Earth Creationists are confabulating one imaginary scenario after another in order to defend their position at the cost of sounding and looking ridiculous, not unlike the evolutionists themselves.

    I, too, am willing to risk looking like a crackpot with the following argument. Mainstream scientists do not know whether or not the speed of light has not changed for billions of years but that does not mean no one knows. It is easy to show logically that, in a discrete universe (which our universe certainly is), there can only be one speed and that speed is the speed of light. That’s right. I know. It’s hard to believe, initially, but nothing moves or can move faster or slower than c. Objects that appear to move at speeds slower than light are actually taking discrete quantum jumps at c, interspersed with a number of wait periods. A body moving at c has no wait periods between jumps. Half the speed of life requires an equal number of jumps and waits, etc. The motion of bodies moving at ordinary speeds consists mostly of wait periods with a few jumps sprinkled in.

    The above is the reason that I am not a YEC.

  235. 235
    CentralScrutinizer

    Timaus: There is a tremendous fear in American evangelical circles that if even a single narrative statement in Genesis 1-11 does not correspond to “historical fact,” the entire Christian revelation will be proved untrustworthy.

    Indeed.

    Now, a question for all you Biblical literalists out there:

    Do you accept this as a literal statement about a historical event? Yes or no?…

    Psalm 18: Smoke went up from God’s nostrils; out of his mouth came a devouring fire; flaming coals blazed out in front of him! God parted the skies and came down; thick darkness was beneath his feet. God mounted the heavenly creatures and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind… The seabeds were exposed; the earth’s foundations were laid bare

    If your “yes” is accompanied with any qualifiers, then it’s actually a “no.”

  236. Yes, those are literal statements.

    :)

  237. 237

    Or, Barry, YECs recognize that human knowledge is incomplete and God’s isn’t. As a consequence, we would take any sliver of an iota of a chance that God knows what he’s talking about over the entire sum total of collective human wisdom.

  238. tragic mishap:

    YECs recognize that human knowledge is incomplete and God’s isn’t. As a consequence, we would take any sliver of an iota of a chance that God knows what he’s talking about over the entire sum total of collective human wisdom.

    How does this help you interpret Scripture?

    How dose it provide answers to “how old is the universe” and “how old is the earth” and “for how long has life existed on earth” and “what was the rate and extent of evolution post fiood”?

    It’s just another statement of faith.

    If god would deceive us in the work of his hands, why would he not also deceive us through his words?

    This is a good example of why YEC’ism is anti-science.

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