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Is “Christian Darwinist” an Oxymoron?

I commend to you Denyse O’Leary’s excellent post below concerning whether famous Darwinist Theodosius Dobzhansky (1900-1975) was a Christian.  O’Leary demonstrates that while there is certainly no doubt about the “Darwinist” part, there is plenty of room to be skeptical about the “Christian” part. 

The problem with claiming that a Spinozan mystic like Dobzhansky was a Christian is that the claim does violence to language.  The word “Christian” classifies.  In other words some people are in the class “Christian” and some people are not.  If this were not so, the classification would cease to classify and become meaningless.  “Christian” is not simply a synonym for “agreeable fellow.”  The word has substantive content and divides people according to their religious beliefs.  

What I have said so far is uncontroversial.  Some people are Christians and some people are not.  Who could disagree with that?  The problem comes when we try to sort people into or out of the class.  Here we are faced with at least two problems:  (1) where is the border of the class; and (2) how do we know which side of the border any particular person is on?

 As to the first problem, O’Leary suggests the Apostles Creed marks the border.  The Apostles Creed states:

 I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.

He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.

He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again.

He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and life everlasting.

 Certainly the Creed contains the core of what I would call the “Historic Christian Faith” confessed by Christians everywhere for the last 2,000 years.  But need one understand and confess every jot and tittle of the Creed to be a Christian?  Consider someone who has just been told the story of how Jesus died and was buried and rose again victorious over death and instantly receives and believes that story and confesses that Jesus is the Christ.  Is it really necessary for him to know the parts of the Creed that concern ecclesiology and eschatology before we can say he is a Christian?  I think not.  Correct belief concerning these doctrinal matters, as important as they are, does not define a Christian. 

If the Apostles Creed is not the irreducible minimum of the Christian faith then what is?  Let me suggest a very simple and bright line.  Romans 10:9-10 states:  “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” 

This formula establishes two and only two criteria for a person to be a Christian:  The person must (1) believe in his heart that God raised Jesus from the dead; and (2) confess that Jesus is Lord.  It is just that simple.  Anyone who believes and confesses these things will, according to the scripture, be saved.  This then is the essential core of the Christian faith, the border of the classification.  According to scripture we can say with confidence that every person who believes that God raised Jesus from the dead and confesses with his mouth that Jesus is Lord is a Christian.  Every person who does not do both of these things is not a Christian. 

Having established the border of Christianity, we now move on to the second problem, sorting people into (or out of) the classification.  As we have seen, the Romans 10 formula requires a person to confess that Jesus is Lord and believe in his heart that God raised Jesus from the dead.  The first part is easy enough.  A person either confesses Jesus is Lord or he refuses to do so.  But the second part presents a huge problem.  How can we know what a person truly believes in their heart?  I have a hard enough time attempting to fathom the depths of my own heart.  Every other person’s heart is completely inaccessible to me.  So we find that even if we are able clearly to define the borders of the class “Christian,” we still may not be able to know whether a particular person is a Christian.

While we must remain silent about many things, there are some things we can know with certainty.  Those who do not meet the first part of the test (confess that Jesus is Lord) are by definition not Christians.  On this basis we can say with confidence that Stalin, Mao and Richard Dawkins are not Christians.  But what about those who meet the first part of the test?  They have confessed that Jesus is Lord.  How can we know whether they have met the second part of the test so we can sort them into or out of the class called “Christian”?  The answer is, I believe, we cannot.  For each person who has confessed Jesus as Lord, whether they truly believe in their heart is something about which we cannot have certain knowledge.  Whether they truly believe only they and God can know, and we, who cannot know, must remain silent.  

So at the end of the day, I find that neither I nor any other human has any part of the sorting process.  At the first step we do not sort.  People sort themselves if they refuse to confess that Jesus is Lord.  And at the second step, we must remain silent, because we cannot know the true condition of a person’s heart.  

What about a person who says he is a Christian and that he believes in Darwinism?  Are they a Christian or not?  As we have seen, for any particular person who has confessed Jesus as Lord, we must remain silent.  We cannot know.  The best we can do is make a few pertinent observations: 

1.  The phrase “Christian Darwinist” is not an oxymoron.  Look at the Romans 10 formula again.  The line is simple and bright.  The scripture says that if a person confesses Jesus and believes in his heart, he will be saved.  Even if we assume for the sake of argument that Darwinism is dead wrong, it makes no difference.  The formula is confess and believe.  It is not confess and believe and hold a correct view of evolution. 

2.  Many Christians who say they believe in “Darwinism” do not understand what they are saying.  They believe that God created through evolution and was involved in the process and guided it through to completion.  They do not understand that “Darwinism” properly understood rejects the very view they hold.  A Darwinist believes that the combination of natural law and random variation are sufficient to account for the origin and diversity of life without any guiding intelligence from God or anyone else.  They believe that the human body is the result of a process that did not need God any more than a stone rolling down a hill needs God.  Very often, therefore, the issue is not whether a Christian can believe Darwinism, but whether a Christian can hold a mistaken belief about Darwinism.  

3.  Darwinism, properly understood, is dangerous to all religious belief.  It truly is, in Dennett’s phrase, a universal acid, and faith is one of the things that acid dissolves.  It is for a very good reason that Dawkins famously proclaimed that Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.  And we see a strong correlation between the rise of Darwinism and the decline of religious faith, especially among the so-called intellectual elite.  Belief can be very inconvenient when that belief places constraints on the sovereign will.  Darwinism helps people throw off those constraints. 

Finally, we end where we began with the question of Dobzhansky’s status.  Was he a Christian?  First, as we have seen, the mere fact that he was a Darwinist does not settle the issue.  It is possible for a person to be a Darwinist and a Christian.  Let us consider Dobzhansky’s status in light of the Romans 10 test.  Did he confess that Jesus is Lord?  My understanding, and someone can correct me if I am wrong, is that Dobzhansky told people that he did not believe in a personal God.  He believed in a sort of universal intelligence guiding the universe.  In other words, he was a mystic similar to Spinoza.  

If this is so, Dobzhansky was not a Christian.  I did not sort him.  He sorted himself.  He told everyone that he did not believe that God raised Jesus from the dead, because he did not believe in the existence of a personal God who could do any such thing.  By his own word Dobzhansky affirmed that he did not meet even the simple two-step test of Romans 10. 

What about Dobzhansky’s student and friend Francisco Ayala, who reported that Dobzhansky was a “religious man.”  Being a religious person does not make one a Christian.  Hindus are often devoutly religious; yet no Hindu is a Christian.  

What about the fact that Dobzhansky was a communicant of the Eastern Orthodox Church?  Being a member of a church does not make one a Christian.  My name may have been on the rolls of the First Baptist Church for decades, but if I do not confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from the dead, I am not a Christian.  If for whatever reason a Spinozan mystic chooses to sit in the pew of an Orthodox church, he remains a Spinozan mystic.  Sitting in that pew does not make him a Christian.

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62 Responses to Is “Christian Darwinist” an Oxymoron?

  1. Is “Christian Darwinist” an Oxymoron?

    Not if “Christian Heliocentrist” isn’t.

  2. Barry, I think I disagree with point 3, but overall, good post. Often, there is far too much bickering over non ‘core’ doctrines.

  3. This is an excellent response, Mr. Arrington. I have to confess I feel an inner conflict on this issue, as I have a hard time accepting those who are not Trinitarian (a key point of the Apostles and Nicene Creeds) as Christians. But I think you have spoken to the heart of the matter; at least I feel so convicted. Besides, it’s not my business to make the final determination but God’s.

  4. BA1. The phrase “Christian Darwinist” is not an oxymoron. Look at the Romans 10 formula again. The line is simple and bright. The scripture says that if a person confesses Jesus and believes in his heart, he will be saved. Even if we assume for the sake of argument that Darwinism is dead wrong, it makes no difference. The formula is confess and believe. It is not confess and believe and hold a correct view of evolution.

    But, you’re wrong.

    The term ‘God’ in the profession or belief (“God raised Jesus from the dead”) is not a meaningless term: it refers to some things and not to others. ‘God’ isn’t *just* some being who raised Jesus from the dead – hell, a space-alien with advanced technology could fit that bill.

    No, ‘God’ refers to the Creator (which Christianity maintains is, in fact, Christ himself); to say “God raised Jesus from the dead” is to say “He who creates and sustains the existence of all things raised Jesus from the dead.”

    But Darwinism is all about denying that there even is a being who “who creates and sustains the existence of all things.”

    While one can be an evolutionist and a Christian, one simply cannot be a Darwinist and a Christian.

  5. … and, as you yourself go on to show in observations (2) and (3), your claim in observation (1) (that the phrase “Christian Darwinist” is not an oxymoron) is false.

  6. What does all this have to do with Intelligent Design? This is way off topic. I am Jewish, and am not interested hearing about what one must believe in order to be a Christian. I come here to read about ID.

  7. To help those who struggle with believing God could actually raise Christ from the dead, this following video may help you understand a little of what happened in the tomb of Christ:

    General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Entropy, and The Shroud Of Turin
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5070355/

    The first part of this paper clarifies the overall details in the video a bit more clearly:

    Intelligent Design – The Anthropic Hypothesis
    http://lettherebelight-77.blog.....is_19.html

  8. 8

    Ilion, you state that a Darwinist cannot be a Christian because the term “God” in the Romans 10 formula “refers to the Creator (which Christianity maintains is, in fact, Christ himself); to say “God raised Jesus from the dead” is to say ‘He who creates and sustains the existence of all things raised Jesus from the dead.’”

    I find myself in the very odd position of defending Christian Darwinists with whom I very much disagree. However, here goes.

    Your argument fails because you fail to account for different levels of causation in the act of creation. Non-Darwinist Christians belief that God caused living things to come into being by acting directly in space and time. In other words, they believe that in his act of creation God is a primary cause of living things. A Darwinist Christian (such as Stephen Barr) would say that God uses secondary causes (in particular, mechanical necessity and random variation) to create living things. However, God created the secondary causes and upholds and sustains all things even as the secondary causes create living things.

    Either way, one can say that “He who creates and sustains the existence of all things raised Jesus from the dead.” Therefore, the distinction upon which you rely in your argument fails to hold.

  9. Christianity = God created life or designed the life process [rational]

    Darwinism = God did not create life or design the life process [irrational]

    Christian Darwinism = God designed the process except that he didn’t. [irrational and schizophrenic]

  10. 10

    lastyearon asks: “What does all this have to do with Intelligent Design? This is way off topic. I am Jewish, and am not interested hearing about what one must believe in order to be a Christian. I come here to read about ID.”

    Arrington writes: If you are not interested in reading about what it takes to be a Christian, then don’t read it. Don’t go around telling other people what they should write about or be interested in. I would never be so presumptuous as to tell you what you should be writing about. Why do you think you can come onto my blog and tell me what I should be writing about?

  11. Barry: Might I suggest this thread be re-filed under the category “Religion”, instead of “Intelligent Design”, as was the case for Denyse’s original article?

    (Personally, I do find this all quite interesting, and your response quite helpful)

    Maybe the “category” could be more prominently displayed at the tops of the posts.

    Just a suggestion, since we do talk about a wide range of topics on this site, and I especially enjoy the theological/philosophical ones.

    Arrington writes: I never pay attention to those tags. If you look at my posts you will see the are all under “Intelligent Design” no matter what the topic. Maybe I’ll reform but probably not.

  12. Christianity = apriori intent by a designer leading to a desired outcome that conforms perfectly to the designers intention. ["I knew you before you were in your mother's womb"].

    Darwinism = no design, no intent, and a surprise outcome. ["Evolution is a purposeless, mindless process that did not have man in mind."]

    Christian Darwinism = Apriori intent coupled with no intent at all, a predictable outcome coupled with a surprise outcome, a design coupled with no design, rationality coupled with irrationality.

  13. 13

    StephenB, I am with you. I am not for a minute suggesting that Christian Darwinism is defensible intellectually. Just the opposite is true. The issue is whether one can be mistaken about this issue and still be a Christian. I argued that one can be, and you have not given me any reason to change my mind.

  14. the darwinists sure don’t think christianity and darwinism are compatible..

    “Darwin knew that accepting his theory required believing in philosophical materialism, the conviction that matter is the stuff of all existence and that all mental and spiritual phenomena are its by-products. Darwinian evolution was not only purposeless but also heartless–a process in which the rigors of nature ruthlessly eliminate the unfit. Suddenly, humanity was reduced to just one more species in a world that cared nothing for us. The great human mind was no more than a mass of evolving neurons. Worst of all, there was no divine plan to guide us.” (Biology: Discovering Life, by Joseph S. Levine & Kenneth R. Miller (1st edition, D.C. Heath and Co., 1992), pg. 152; emphasis in original)

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent.”

    Provine, William B. [Professor of Biological Sciences, Cornell University], “, “Evolution: Free will and punishment and meaning in life”, Abstract of Will Provine’s 1998 Darwin Day Keynote Address.

  15. 15

    tsmith, Levine, Miller and Provine are simply wrong. Darwinism does not “compel” belief in philosophical materialism. As I pointed out in [8] above, Christian Stephen Barr would say that Darwinian mechanisms are secondary causes, but those causes are created by an omnipotent, omniscient omni-benevolent God. Barr is perfectly comfortable with “methodological materialism,” while at the same time rejecting a more overarching “philosophical materialism.”

    Nevertheless, you touch on something very important. As I explained in my point 3 in the OP, Darwinism is a universal acid that eats away at religious belief. Why? Because for every person like Stephen Barr who can compartmentalize the two kinds of materialism, there are dozens [scores? hundreds? thousands?] who cannot. It is very easy to slide down the slope of materialism from “methodological” to “philosophical.” That is why even though Darwinism does not compel belief in philosophical materialism, it is nevertheless very dangerous to faith.

  16. —BarryA: “I argued that one can be, and you have not given me any reason to change my mind.”

    I think the key determinant here is the meaning of the word, “oxymoron,” which I define as a figure of speech that combines two contradictory terms. In order to compare and contrast those terms, that is, to determine if they do, indeed, contradict one another, we must first be able to define them in an unambiguous way and in the same comparable context. Otherwise, no contradiction is possible and the proposed oxymoron cannot be determined to be either true or false. If Christianity can be anything at all, if no defining context is presented, and as long as its proponents claim to be in that fold regardless of their theology, the question about an oxymoron is unanswerable and irrelevant.

    What, then, is the defining context by which we can discern whether or not Christian Darwinism is or is not an oxymoron. Is it not evolutionary science and the question of design? From this vantage point, a Christian’s faithfulness to Biblical living or adherence to dogmas] is not the main issue. Rather, the point is his orientation to Christianity’s teaching that God intended, by whatever means, to produce an outcome in keeping with His original intent. Christians accept this basic, and I would say, definitive teaching, while Darwinists do not. Thus, in that context at least, Christian Darwinism is an oxymoron. I know of no other contexts with boundaries clear enough to make this calculation.

  17. I disagree, Barry. I think God can create using completely random processes, which are analogical to free will. Foreknowing the outcome of the random processes means that God is still in control of what happens, just as He is still in control of what happens when He allows us free will. So yes, a Christian can be a true Darwinist.

  18. I think the following video is somewhat helpful, for in it Howard Storm, though a convinced Darwinian Atheist, had as a child, in that child-like faith we have abundantly as children, believed in Christ, and it was that child-like faith that had saved him in his Near-Death Experience from the gates of hell:

    Atheist Howard Storm’s Near Death Experience
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lF7AzxplsME

    further notes:

    The Day I Died – Part 4 of 6 – The Extremely ‘Monitored’ Near Death Experience of Pam Reynolds – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4045560

    The Scientific Evidence for Near Death Experiences – Dr Jeffery Long – Melvin Morse M.D. – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4454627

    Blind Woman Can See During Near Death Experience (NDE) – Pim von Lommel – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3994599/

    Kenneth Ring and Sharon Cooper (1997) conducted a study of 31 blind people, many of who reported vision during their Near Death Experiences (NDEs). 21 of these people had had an NDE while the remaining 10 had had an out-of-body experience (OBE), but no NDE. It was found that in the NDE sample, about half had been blind from birth. (of note: This ‘anomaly’ is also found for deaf people who can hear sound during their Near Death Experiences(NDEs).)
    http://findarticles.com/p/arti....._65076875/

  19. StephenB:

    Christianity = God created life or designed the life process [rational]

    Darwinism = God did not create life or design the life process [irrational]

    Christian Darwinism = God designed the process except that he didn’t. [irrational and schizophrenic]

    Stephen, you mis-define darwinism.

    Darwinism = God (or other supernatural intervention) is not necessary as an explanation for the current state of life.

    Darwinism has nothing to say about God other than that natural processes seem to be sufficient to account for life. I find it odd that the same amount of vitriol isn’t directed at Laplace for showing that the orbits of planets can be explained without invoking supernatural intervention. Darwin did for biology what Laplace (and Newton) did for astronomy: provide an explanatory framework. Why is Darwin vilified and Laplace not?

    By the way, why do my comments require ‘moderator approval’ before they show up? Is this a censored venue? Are dissenting opinions not allowed? Am I in danger of being ‘Expelled’?

  20. 20

    Bilbo I writes: “I disagree, Barry” and then he asserts the same conclusion that I did. Bilbo, I think you assumed what I would conclude from the title of the original post and did not bother reading it before registering your dissent. How unfortunate.

  21. They believe that the human body is the result of a process that did not need God any more than a stone rolling down a hill needs God.

    But ‘a stone rolling down a hill’ does need God. God creates and upholds the universe and the physical laws, after all.

    They believe that God created through evolution and was involved in the process and guided it through to completion. They do not understand that “Darwinism” properly understood rejects the very view they hold. A Darwinist believes that the combination of natural law and random variation are sufficient to account for the origin and diversity of life without any guiding intelligence from God or anyone else.

    This is a perpetual problem for me. Stephen Barr, if I recall correctly, calls himself a Darwinist – but he also flat out says he believes that God, being omniscient and omnipotent, foresaw all that would unfold in the universe, evolution included. I believe the distinction he makes is that evolution may model variation as random (for example) but this no more means ‘unguided’ than it does in his own field of physics. So the scientific model has a practical utility to it, but the model isn’t reality. Just as when I model a roll of the die as “1d6″ doesn’t mean that God wouldn’t know what number will come up when I roll a die.

    But I think this is the real issue: The sort of “random variation” the Darwinists you’re speaking of need to get God out of the picture isn’t the sort that can be scientifically studied. Let me repeat: The “random variation” Michael Ruse speaks of is not the sort you can ever demonstrate even in a controlled laboratory setting, because there’s no way you can ever say “A-ha! God neither saw nor determined this outcome!” with scientific validity. Even the most wily of “creationists” don’t think God is open to this manner of investigation.

    Now I’d agree that if one accepts “Evolution is totally unguided, not even God knew or instituted the outcomes”, then we have an obvious problem re: Christians and Darwinism. But it’s not a problem that flows from any “science” – it flows from metaphysics, from philosophy. Doubly so, since humans are able to use evolutionary principles in design (particularly computer programming) where particular end results are attainable by our direction, etc. The mere fact of artificial selection goes a long way towards showing that evolution can be guided, after all.

    Anyway, this all comes back to what I think is an ongoing muddle on the word ‘Darwinism’. Clearly Barr has a different definition of ‘Darwinism’ than others do. For Barr and others, Darwinism seems to be a name for a pragmatic model, not a statement about reality that requires a metaphysical commitment. For Ruse (and perhaps for ID proponents here) Darwinism lacking that metaphysical commitment is not real “Darwinism”. I wonder how often both sides talk past each other due to this.

  22. Bilbo,

    I think God can create using completely random processes, which are analogical to free will. Foreknowing the outcome of the random processes means that God is still in control of what happens, just as He is still in control of what happens when He allows us free will. So yes, a Christian can be a true Darwinist.

    The problem is, Michael Ruse and many others would disagree with you.

    http://biologos.org/blog/accom.....-religion/

    Go there and read what Ruse – at Biologos, even! – says about Darwinism. If you believe God ‘foreknows the outcome of these completely random processes’ then A) They aren’t “completely random”, and B) According to Ruse, you’re no longer a Darwinist. And Ruse is hardly alone in this.

    I think there are multiple definitions of Darwinism running around. But my problem remains this: If we go by Ruse’s definition of Darwinism, then neither you, nor Barr, nor many other ‘Christian Darwinists’ really are. They can’t be by that definition, because said definition requires a metaphysical commitment to God lacking knowledge and power.

  23. 23

    StephenB writes: “Rather, the point is [the Christian’s] orientation to Christianity’s teaching that God intended, by whatever means, to produce an outcome in keeping with His original intent. Christians accept this basic, and I would say, definitive teaching, while Darwinists do not.”

    StephenB, I think this is going to be one of those rare occasions where we disagree. That’s OK; someone once said, “Show me two men who agree on everything, and I’ll show you two men where only one of them is doing all of the thinking.” ;-)

    The difference between our conclusions is very easy to see. My major premise is that to be a Christian one merely need believe and confess as set forth in Romans 10. You substitute the following premise: “To be a Christian one must adhere to a particular view of origins that excludes Darwinists by definition.”

    I may be wrong, but I think my premise is supported by scripture. Please show me the scriptures that support yours.

  24. BarryA,

    My major premise is that to be a Christian one merely need believe and confess as set forth in Romans 10.

    Though as ever, StephenB doesn’t need me speaking for him, let me ask this.

    Romans 10: If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

    Alright. So clearly one must believe God exists given Romans 10. Is there anything we must believe about God? Would you say that God could be, say.. some embodied, physical deity like Zeus?

  25. 25

    nullasalus, you make some great points. Let me address them one by one:

    1. “But ‘a stone rolling down a hill’ does need God. God creates and upholds the universe and the physical laws, after all.”

    That is exactly right but misses the point of Christian Darwinists like Stephen Barr, whose position I will call the “Barr position” for brevity. Barr would say that the random puff of wind or drop of rain that dislodged the stone is the same as the random variation posited by Darwinism. And he would say that the natural law of gravity (or “mechanical necessity” if you like) is equivalent to the natural law of natural selection. The stone rolling operates on purely secondary causes. God does not push it down the hill. In the same way Barr would say that Darwinian evolution operates on purely secondary causes; God does not intervene to “guide” it any way. At the same time Barr would admit that in both the stone rolling and the animal evolving cases, God, as you say, upholds the universe and physical laws. So when I say that a Christian Darwinist does not believe God intervenes in evolution any more than he intervenes to make a stone roll down the hill, it is quite literally correct.

  26. 26

    nullasalus, you make some great points. Let me address them one by one:

    2. “I believe the distinction he [i.e. Barr] makes is that evolution may model variation as random (for example) but this no more means ‘unguided’ than it does in his own field of physics.”

    You are correct. Some years ago Barr wrote and article for First Things called, I believe, “The Miracle of Evolution” in which he asserted basically what you are saying. I read the article over and over trying to make sense of it. It boils down to this: “‘Random’ for us is not ‘random’ for God.” To me it is not very satisfying. He truly seems to be saying that “random” only means “random from our perspective.” This, in my view, stretches the words to their breaking point.

    Here’s a thought: From the perspective of an omniscient being have all possible wave functions already collapsed? God knows whether that cat is alive or dead before you even put him in the box, much less before you shoot a photon at it. ;-)

  27. 27

    nullasalus, you make some great points. Let me address them one by one:

    3. “Alright. So clearly one must believe God exists given Romans 10. Is there anything we must believe about God? Would you say that God could be, say.. some embodied, physical deity like Zeus?”

    No, Paul clearly had in mind the God of the Bible, not just any God.

  28. BarryA,

    Thanks for the responses.

    Barr would say that Darwinian evolution operates on purely secondary causes; God does not intervene to “guide” it any way. At the same time Barr would admit that in both the stone rolling and the animal evolving cases, God, as you say, upholds the universe and physical laws. So when I say that a Christian Darwinist does not believe God intervenes in evolution any more than he intervenes to make a stone roll down the hill, it is quite literally correct.

    Well, I have some problems with this: You’re saying that the Christian Darwinist does not believe that ‘God intervenes’. But previously you said: A Darwinist believes that the combination of natural law and random variation are sufficient to account for the origin and diversity of life without any guiding intelligence from God or anyone else.

    I think there’s a big difference between the claim that evolution proceeds “without any guiding intelligence from God or anyone else”, and the claim that evolution proceeds “without intervention”. An evolutionary history could in principle have no direct intervention whatsoever, yet still entirely be permeated with “guiding intelligence”. Analogously, I could code a computer program that will certainly proceed (when run) in a certain and foreknown way at each point, but I don’t need to ‘be there, intervening’ at each or any point to “guide” it to its known end. But it’s still guided, and intelligence is still essential to what we see.

    I want to stress at this point: The popular, atheist Darwinist claim stands counter to this “guiding intelligence” specifically. Read the Michael Ruse essay I linked to Bilbo and you’ll see an example of this for yourself: Ruse makes it clear that for God to know the outcome of evolution is to eschew Darwinism. Jerry Coyne and others either outright say or strongly imply the same.

  29. BarryA,

    It boils down to this: “‘Random’ for us is not ‘random’ for God.” To me it is not very satisfying. He truly seems to be saying that “random” only means “random from our perspective.” This, in my view, stretches the words to their breaking point.

    I fail to see why. Could you explain more? If there is a pattern in nature, but I cannot see the pattern, then to me what I’m looking at is random. But if there truly is a pattern, it’s not “really” random.

    From the perspective of an omniscient being have all possible wave functions already collapsed? God knows whether that cat is alive or dead before you even put him in the box, much less before you shoot a photon at it.

    Possibly. Or maybe God intervenes (as some TE’s have suggested) at those specific points. Who’s to say? I’ll note that this gets into interpretations of quantum physics, which most physicists tend to regard as an issue science is silent on (if only at the moment, but possibly for all time.) We have a sense of how things will ‘play out’ due to our equations, but what those equations “really mean” is another question.

    To put it another way, it seems to me there’s multiple possibilities ‘God’ could accomplish His will, and we can’t be empirically sure which way is the actual way quite yet.

  30. BarryA,

    No, Paul clearly had in mind the God of the Bible, not just any God.

    Alright. But then I have to ask – does Paul’s statement come with implicit understandings of what God is? Because if so, then – depending on what that understanding is, and depending on what we’re talking about with “Darwinism” – there may be trouble ahead.

    If A) the God Paul meant was omniscient and omnipotent, B) Paul words are authoritative here, and C) Michael Ruse is correct that a God who knew and preordained the outcomes of evolution is incompatible with “Darwinism” (whether by foreknowing the results of those “secondary causes” or by intervening at the quantum level), then it seems like we’re left with the conclusion – even in that specific, particular passage – that Darwinism is incompatible with Christianity.

    Granted, one could argue about A B and C, but I think it’s a live option.

  31. —BarryA: “StephenB, I think this is going to be one of those rare occasions where we disagree. That’s OK; someone once said, “Show me two men who agree on everything, and I’ll show you two men where only one of them is doing all of the thinking.”

    Right you are, and it is almost as much fun to fine tune our ideas through dialogue as it is to agree.

    –”I may be wrong, but I think my premise is supported by scripture. Please show me the scriptures that support yours.”

    You are not wrong, Scripture supports your premise [Romans 20] just as it supports my premise [Romans 1: 20]. However, your Scriptural passage speaks to the minimum requirements for salvation while my Scriptural passage speaks to the compatibility between faith and reason. We are both taking a small chunk out of a bigger picture. I am arguing that the latter chunk is more relevant to the Christian/Darwin conflict.

    —”So when I say that a Christian Darwinist does not believe God intervenes in evolution any more than he intervenes to make a stone roll down the hill, it is quite literally correct.”

    It seems to me that, for purposes of this discussion, the issue is not about whether God once intervened or now intervenes in an macro-evolutionary process. The relevant point, I contend, is this: If macro-evolution is true, [and I grant that only for the sake of argument], everything turns on what kind of a process it is. Did it [A] “unfold” according to a purposeful, pre-established plan, that is, did it go through a maturation process much like an acorn unfolding into a tree, or [B] did it “emerge” in a totally random and unpredictable way such that the end result was an unintended consequence. Darwinism leaves no room for [A] Christianity leaves no room for [B]. That would make Christian Darwinism an oxymoron.

    Put another way, evolution either knew where it is going or it didn’t; the process was either orchestrated or it wasn’t; the end result was either intended or it wasn’t. The Christian Darwinist wants to have it both ways.

  32. StephenB & Barry,

    Put another way, evolution either knew where it is going or it didn’t; the process was either orchestrated or it wasn’t; the end result was either intended or it wasn’t. The Christian Darwinist wants to have it both ways.

    Well, I thank StephenB for at least agreeing that this is a question of considerable interest in this discussion.

    Is Barr (for example) a Darwinist? He affirms God foreknew and preordained evolution’s outcomes – I think that makes it clear he chooses A. But Barr, I believe, also insists he’s a Darwinist.

    But StephenB, Michael Ruse, and others insist that Darwinism requires B.

    So we’ve got problems. Some significant portion of people in this debate have a defective definition of Darwinism. Is it the people who insist Darwinism is compatible with A? Or the people who insist that Darwinism demands B?

  33. Thanks to Barry and all contributors.

    My original point, and ongoing concern, is this, too-common, kind of bilge fronted to the public:

    Schmoe, a passionate Darwinist, is also a good Christian.

    Scuttle clause in 5 pt type: Oh, he doesn’t believe in tripe, like God sending signs to humanity or the resurrection of the dead.

    But in general, he somehow believes that evolution is not going absolutely nowhere …

    Oh, and anyone who says he isn’t a Christian is a judgmental stinkpot who shall be banished forthwith from
    Iron Rice Bowl U.

    I think the Internet will end up being fatal to that kind of thing. – d.

  34. Denyse,

    My original point, and ongoing concern, is this, too-common, kind of bilge fronted to the public:

    Well, I agree entirely with what you’re saying. I’m normally reluctant to question anyone’s faith – but frankly the moment someone holds up person X as someone who is ‘a devout Christian and a Darwinist’, well, they’ve invited the asking of questions on themselves.

    When Ken Miller claims to be an “Orthodox Catholic and an Orthodox Darwinist” to try and prove that there’s no conflict between Darwinism and Catholicism (and thus serve up some PR for Darwinism), then it’s time to investigate that claim and see if it holds up.

  35. At (6), lastyearon asks:
    “What does all this have to do with Intelligent Design? This is way off topic. I am Jewish, and am not interested hearing about what one must believe in order to be a Christian. I come here to read about ID.”

    Barry Arrington’s reply at (10)
    If you are not interested in reading about what it takes to be a Christian, then don’t read it. Don’t go around telling other people what they should write about or be interested in. I would never be so presumptuous as to tell you what you should be writing about. Why do you think you can come onto my blog and tell me what I should be writing about?

    BarryA,
    Why such an ill-tempered reply (in Bold type no less) to a simple and legitimate comment from lastyearon?

    Your blog? I presume you are the current moderator of this blog, but I understood that Uncommon Descent was the shared effort of a community of ID contributors.

    Your lengthy and judgemental discussion of who merits being considered a “true” Christian in light of their views on evolution will hardly advance the cause of convincing the public that ID is underlain by science and not driven by narrow religious concerns.

  36. Your lengthy and judgemental discussion of who merits being considered a “true” Christian in light of their views on evolution will hardly advance the cause of convincing the public that ID is underlain by science and not driven by narrow religious concerns.

    So, we should be suspicious of Biologos, the NCSE, Ken Miller and others when they have that exact same conversation? You want to hit the NCSE site and see how often they bring up this very subject (whether christians can be ‘Darwinists’)? To say nothing of certain atheists and their tendency to connect evolution to their own ‘narrow religious concerns’.

    I think “the public” will care quite little about this blog conversation. Other, more particular sorts may get their panties in a knot, but I imagine they will survive.

  37. I wondering if “StephenB” is Jay Richards. His (StephenB) way of discussing things seems like the style of J.Richards.

  38. 38

    StephenB writes: “your Scriptural passage speaks to the minimum requirements for salvation while my Scriptural passage speaks to the compatibility between faith and reason. We are both taking a small chunk out of a bigger picture. I am arguing that the latter chunk is more relevant to the Christian/Darwin conflict.”

    Then perhaps we are not disagreeing after all. We are approaching the subject from different perspectives. I say that it is at least possible for a person to be dreadfully wrong about the origins issue and still meet the minimum threshold of being a Christian. You say that Darwinism is utterly incompatible with a properly developed Christian worldview. Both those things are true.

  39. –BarryA: “I say that it is at least possible for a person to be dreadfully wrong about the origins issue and still meet the minimum threshold of being a Christian. You say that Darwinism is utterly incompatible with a properly developed Christian worldview. Both those things are true.”

    Yes, I agree completely. It also appears that just as much, if not more, turns on the the definition of “Darwinism” as on the definition of “Christianity.”

  40. —T. lise: “I wondering if “StephenB” is Jay Richards. His (StephenB) way of discussing things seems like the style of J.Richards.”

    We are not the same person, but I thank you for an exceedingly generous compliment.

  41. Barry (20) wrote: Bilbo I writes: “I disagree, Barry” and then he asserts the same conclusion that I did. Bilbo, I think you assumed what I would conclude from the title of the original post and did not bother reading it before registering your dissent. How unfortunate.

    Uh, no. I read your OP first:

    2. Many Christians who say they believe in “Darwinism” do not understand what they are saying. They believe that God created through evolution and was involved in the process and guided it through to completion. They do not understand that “Darwinism” properly understood rejects the very view they hold. A Darwinist believes that the combination of natural law and random variation are sufficient to account for the origin and diversity of life without any guiding intelligence from God or anyone else. They believe that the human body is the result of a process that did not need God any more than a stone rolling down a hill needs God. Very often, therefore, the issue is not whether a Christian can believe Darwinism, but whether a Christian can hold a mistaken belief about Darwinism.

    A Christian can believe in true Darwinism, not just have a mistaken belief about Darwinism.

  42. Nullasalus (22) cites Michael Ruse that God foreknowing the outcome of Darwinian evolution makes it deterministic and antithetical to randomness. This is debatable, but Ruse offers his own solution:

    I think now, several years later, I am more on top of the problem. The answer lies in the fact that, since humans did evolve through natural selection, they could evolve. It was just a question of enough tries. I see no reason why God should not go on creating universes until humans appear.

    So either way, a Christian can believe in true Darwinism.

  43. —”So either way, a Christian can believe in true Darwinism.”

    If you carefully define each term, and hold to that definition, you will find that a Christian cannot believe in true Darwinism.

  44. –jurrasicmac: Darwinism has nothing to say about God other than that natural processes seem to be sufficient to account for life.”

    The point is not whether natural processes are sufficient to account for life, or whether they are not, but rather than Christian Darwinists take both positions at the same time.

  45. StephenB (43):

    If you carefully define each term, and hold to that definition, you will find that a Christian cannot believe in true Darwinism.

    I think I carefully did, and correctly concluded that a Christian can believe in true Darwinism.

  46. Can a true Christian believe in a common ancestor, a la Behe? NO. This would vitiate the essential Christian doctrine of death as a consequence of sin. Behe believes in death before sin.

  47. Bilbo,

    So either way, a Christian can believe in true Darwinism.

    No, Michael Ruse says ‘you can be a Christian, in Michael Ruse’s opinion, even if you deny that God is omniscient and omnipotent and…’. And who knows what else.

    Why not go the whole nine yards and say then that you can be a Christian even if you’re an atheist, like Lubos Motl? (I believe he calls himself a “Christian Atheist”, meaning a Christian who happens to be an atheist too.) Apparently that’s possible, because hey – Motl’s doing it.

  48. I wrote: “If you carefully define each term, and hold to that definition, you will find that a Christian cannot believe in true Darwinism.”

    —Bilbo: “I think I carefully did, and correctly concluded that a Christian can believe in true Darwinism.”

    Meaning no disrespect, but you did not define your terms at all. You simply made the assertion that Christianity is compatible with Darwinism. If you will read my post @31, you will find that I provided a comparison/contrast of the Christian and Darwinist world views, using common terms and comparable contexts. It is on the strength of those articulated meanings, that I argued that each is irreconcilable with the other.

    Also, you will notice that nullasalus holds both sides accountable for their definitions and the way they are used, pointing out, for example, that Ruse allows for a watered-down definition of Christianity. The only way that these competing truth claims can be evalutated is if those who make them can explain what they mean when they make them.

  49. Hi Stephen,

    You wrote in 31:

    Put another way, evolution either knew where it is going or it didn’t; the process was either orchestrated or it wasn’t; the end result was either intended or it wasn’t. The Christian Darwinist wants to have it both ways.

    But it doesn’t matter if evolution “knew” where it was going. It only matters if God knew where evolution was going. The Christian Darwinist believes that God knew where evolution was going. So a Christian can believe in true Darwinism.

  50. Hi Nullasalus,

    I’m not sure why you keep bringing up Michael Ruse. He’s not sole arbiter of either Darwinism or of Christianity. Many Darwinists disagree with him on the probability of evolution producing intelligent beings. And he certainly has a warped understanding of Christianity.

  51. Seems to me that one can be a Darwinist in the “methodological naturalism” sense and be a Christian. Methodological Naturalism is not concerned with deities and only requires a commitment to experimental non-intelligent causation. Darwinists (or those beholden to the Modern Synthesis) cannot tell us how much, if any, natural vs artificial selection occured, and how much random variation vs intelligent intervention occured to bring about life as we know it. Real science is entirely pragmatic, and is about data and hypotheses, and testable predictions. Of course one can be a “Christian Darwinist” if one limits Darwinism to the domain of real science.

  52. —Bilbo: “But it doesn’t matter if evolution “knew” where it was going. It only matters if God knew where evolution was going. The Christian Darwinist believes that God knew where evolution was going.”

    That is precisely where the Christian Darwinist becomes confused. God’s foreknowledge is not enough. God knows if the stock market is going to crash, but that doesn’t mean that he caused it to happen. Christianity holds that, if evolution happened, God set it up to unfold according to a plan. He didn’t just know it was going to happen, He made it happen. According to Christianity, evolution, if it happened, “unfolded” to produce a result in accordance with what the Creator had in mind. Darwinism, on the other hand, holds that life “emerged” without a plan with no end in mind at all. The two ideas are not compatible.

    —Bilbo: So a Christian can believe in true Darwinism.

    If, as I requested, you will go through the intellectual exercise of defining your terms, a difficult but necessary prerequisite for making sense of this dialogue, you will discover that a Christian cannot believe in true Darwinism. Anyone who says otherwise either doesn’t know what a Christian is or doesn’t know what a Darwinist is, or worse, will not even think about it.

  53. —Mike: “Seems to me that one can be a Darwinist in the “methodological naturalism” sense and be a Christian. Methodological Naturalism is not concerned with deities and only requires a commitment to experimental non-intelligent causation.”

    Darwinism is not a method. It is an explanation. Methodological naturalism is simply the means by which the Darwinist rules out any evidence that might challenge that explanation.

  54. A Christian who claims to be a Darwinist is probably really a Christian theistic evolutionist. And theistic evolution is not a viable alternative scientifically or theologically to many (including me).

  55. StephenB:Darwinism is not a method. It is an explanation. Methodological naturalism is simply the means by which the Darwinist rules out any evidence that might challenge that explanation.

    If Darwinists were intellectually honest about their asserted distinction between ‘methodological naturalism’ and ‘philosophical naturalism,’ then they’d have no problem with ‘methodological designism.’

  56. —Ilion: “If Darwinists were intellectually honest about their asserted distinction between ‘methodological naturalism’ and ‘philosophical naturalism,’ then they’d have no problem with ‘methodological designism.’

    Exactly right. If scientists must study nature as if nature is all there is, then nature might as well be all there is.

  57. Barry wrote:

    My major premise is that to be a Christian one merely need believe and confess as set forth in Romans 10. You substitute the following premise: “To be a Christian one must adhere to a particular view of origins that excludes Darwinists by definition.”

    I may be wrong, but I think my premise is supported by scripture. Please show me the scriptures that support yours.

    I couldn’t agree more with your premise — and in fact I think that it can be expanded upon biblically.

    It seems clear from the scriptures that the moment of salvation — for which Romans 10:9-10 gives instruction — also represents the moment of a new birth.

    John 3:1-7 [AV here and below]:
    There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

    The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

    Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

    Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

    Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

    That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

    Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

    I Peter 1:23
    Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

    It also seems clear scripturally that the moment of the new birth, quite logically, is also the moment when men and women become children of God.

    I John 3:1
    Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God…

    Romans 8:16
    The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.

    As with the natural birth, things may go well with a child’s development — then again, things may not go so well. But any lack of subsequent spiritual development on the part of a child of God cannot negate the reality of the original event, when he or she was “born of the spirit.” No more so than a lack of physical or psychological growth negates the reality of the original event when he or she was “born of the water.” (Which, quite obviously, Christ is alluding to natural birth in John 3:5 above; c.p. verse 6.)

    I Peter 2:1-2
    Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,

    As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.

    What God wants for every human being, if the Apostle Paul is any guide, is twofold:

    I Timothy 2:3-4 [emphasis added]
    For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;

    Who will have [thelo in the Greek N.T.; used not in the sense of God's sovereign will, but of what God desires; it could be translated "Who wants..."] all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

    Having freedom of will, human beings not only have a God-ordained say-so in whether or not to accept salvation. We also have a say-so in how much of the truth we will come to know after becoming children of God.

    Biblically, our free-will acceptance of Romans 10:9-10 is what brought us “unto salvation.” But our free-will acts did not accomplish what God wrought through Christ to make salvation available to us, nor can it negate what He worked in us through Christ Jesus when we were saved, born again, and received the standing as children of God.

    Ephesians 2:8-10
    For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

    Not of works, lest any man should boast.

    For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

    The Greek words in the New Testament for the verb “to save” and the noun “salvation” both have the same root, which not only denotes “rescue,” it also denotes “wholeness.”

    As far as I’m concerned, what that wholeness which the Spirit gives consists of represents a vast undiscovered country scripturally. Of which, when comprehended, renders a simple answer to any debate over whether a Christian can hold Darwinist beliefs or any other kind of belief, right or wrong: Of course they can.

    Talking about children, in my book, having helped my wife raise two boys (not to mention having been a less-than-perfect child myself, go figure), there can be a big difference between the way children “should walk” and the way they do walk at times. But no matter how far out into the gooney weeds they may wander, they are still the children of their father (c.f. the Prodigal Son).

    Likewise with children of God.

  58. StephenB 52

    That is precisely where the Christian Darwinist becomes confused. God’s foreknowledge is not enough. God knows if the stock market is going to crash, but that doesn’t mean that he caused it to happen.

    Joseph to his brothers: “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” God did not sell Joseph into slavery, his brothers did. But God allowed their actions in order to bring about His purposes. It is logically possible that God allowed a random series of events to occur in order to bring about His purposes.

    Christianity holds that, if evolution happened, God set it up to unfold according to a plan. He didn’t just know it was going to happen, He made it happen.

    One can be a Christian and disagree with this.

    According to Christianity, evolution, if it happened, “unfolded” to produce a result in accordance with what the Creator had in mind.

    Yes, this is true. But “unfolded” does not necessarily mean the same thing as “He made it happen.”

    Darwinism, on the other hand, holds that life “emerged” without a plan with no end in mind at all.

    Darwinists often hold this, but it is a metaphysical claim, which is beyond the ability of science to determine. The most that Darwinism can say is that there is no discernable plan.

    —Bilbo: So a Christian can believe in true Darwinism.

    If, as I requested, you will go through the intellectual exercise of defining your terms, a difficult but necessary prerequisite for making sense of this dialogue, you will discover that a Christian cannot believe in true Darwinism.

    I went through the “difficult but necessary prerequisite” and have discovered that your analysis is incomplete.

    Anyone who says otherwise either doesn’t know what a Christian is or doesn’t know what a Darwinist is, or worse, will not even think about it.

    Again, I must politely disagree.

  59. —Bilbo: “I went through the “difficult but necessary prerequisite” and have discovered that your analysis is incomplete.”

    Meaning no disrespect, but I didn’t ask you for your opinion about my analysis. I asked you to Define your terms so that you [and I] can at least know what you are talking about when you use them and make claims about them.

    Define Darwinism, Define Christianity, and then tell me how they can be compatible. If you cannot articulate what you mean by each term, then you are hardly in a position to tell us that each is compatible with the other. That you cannot do this indicates that you have not thought the matter through and should not, therefore, be making claims that you will not defend or even submit to scrutiny.

  60. Christianity: The belief that the Yahweh, who is omniscient, omnipotent, and omni-benevolent, became incarnated as a human being, known as Jesus of Nazareth, died and rose from the dead, so that all who believe in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

    Darwinism: The belief that all present living (earthly) organisms are commonly descended from a “few” unicellular cells, mainly by the process of natural selection acting upon random mutation.

    Now answer a question for me, Stephen: Did Joseph’s brothers sell him into slavery out of free will, or were they compelled to do so by God?

  61. Bilbo, thank your for your definitions.

    You defined Christianity as follows:

    “Christianity: The belief that the Yahweh, who is omniscient, omnipotent, and omni-benevolent, became incarnated as a human being, known as Jesus of Nazareth, died and rose from the dead, so that all who believe in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”

    I approve of and agree with your theological description of Christianity. Unfortunately, it does not speak to the Christian approach to the evolutionary process or the fact that it cannot, like Darwinism, admit of more than one possible outcome. In this narrow but important context, Christianity is incompatible with Darwinism, which allows for a number of other possibilities.

    Your definition of Darwinism contains many relevant points, but, it too does not speak to the common terms needed for a comparison, namely a description of the kind of end result the process can produce [anything at all], which makes it incompatible with the Christian approach which will allow of only one [That which conforms to God's original plan].

    Perhaps we can continue this on the O’Leary thread so we don’t have to repeat ourselves.

    —”Now answer a question for me, Stephen: Did Joseph’s brothers sell him into slavery out of free will, or were they compelled to do so by God?”

    They did it out of free will.

  62. F/N (s):

    1] This thread is really about one aspect of origins science [and related phil issues] in society and is relevant to the focus of this blog as a whole.

    –> Maybe, an OS+ in Society topic should be added?

    2] In assessing Darwinism, I think the Darwin letter to Edward Bibbins Aveling (a physician, and Karl Marx’s son- in- law) of Oct 13, 1880 is an often overlooked but crucial point, which plainly shows that Darwinism was from the outset in part designed to exploit the prestige of science to create the impression that God was out of a job:

    . . . though I am a strong advocate for free thought [NB: free-thought is an old synonym for skepticism, agnosticism or atheism] on all subjects, yet it appears to me (whether rightly or wrongly) that direct arguments against christianity & theism produce hardly any effect on the public; & freedom of thought is best promoted by the gradual illumination of men’s minds, which follows from the advance of science. It has, therefore, been always my object to avoid writing on religion, & I have confined myself to science. I may, however, have been unduly biassed by the pain which it would give some members of my family [NB: especially his wife, Emma], if I aided in any way direct attacks on religion.

    3] That is why, once Darwinism triumphed in the halls of the Academy and spread into the popular mindset, it created the situation where for the first time in history, atheism became a mass movement. For, if the strong appearance of design in nature could be dismissed as “designoid,” illusory, then God was perceived by many to be out of a job, and they were all too happy to be able to throw over the traces of moral government in the name of science and being “intelligent.”

    4] Christian Darwinism, then is fundamentally an accommodationist movement that tries to bridge God and Darwin.

    5] To do so, it either must show that Darwin did not put God out of a job, or redefine God and God’s work to fit Darwin’s terms.

    6] A direct challenge to Darwinist evolutionary materialism is going to bring the hornet’s nest down on one’s head. That has happened to the Creationists, and to the Design movement — regardless of the fact that on Darwin critique both have a serious point, and that there is indeed considerable evidence of a designed cosmos and that life is also designed.

    6] Christian Darwinists have tried instead to be Darwinists to the Darwinists, and Christians to the Christians. But, is that do-able?

    7] So soon as one brings the full force of the Creeds to bear, strictly speaking, probably no. For, the creeds were in part designed to answer to challenges that looked a lot like where Darwinism has gone: intellectual and popular thought that serves worldviews fundamentally antithetical to the concept of a good, ground of reality unique Creator-Redeemer God who views the physical creation as fundamentally good, though marred and harmed by sin and evil as a result of sin at different levels in the cosmos. A God, who, as redeemer is in the ongoing process — complete with specific, day by day interventions such as responses to prayer — of breaking the power of evil and redeeming those who respond to the call of truth, rescue and right.

    8] But, there is another side to the Creeds, especially the Apostle’s Creed and its more elaborate form, the Nicene Creed. Contrary to what the Dan Brownists and like ilk believe or declaim, they are intensely and specifically, phrase by phrase based on the C1 NT text [cf. e.g. "Light of Light" given Heb 1:1 - 3], as I show here as part of an in-progress course.

    9] Now, to a degree, I think this is secondary [though not unimportant!], as it is plain from e.g. Rom 2 [8 Chs before 10], that God treats us not on being 100% accurate and right, but on how we respond to the truth and right that we have access to:

    Rom 2: 4 Or do you have contempt for the wealth of his kindness, forbearance, and patience, and yet do not know that God’s kindness leads you to repentance? 5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath for yourselves in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed! 6 He will reward each one according to his works: 7 eternal life to those who by perseverance in good works seek glory and honor and immortality, 8 but wrath and anger to those who live in selfish ambition and do not obey the truth but follow unrighteousness . . . .

    14 For whenever the Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature the things required by the law, these who do not have the law are a law to themselves. 15 They show that the work of the law is written in their hearts, as their conscience bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or else defend them, 16 on the day when God will judge the secrets of human hearts, according to my gospel through Christ Jesus. [NET]

    10] There is a lot of room for confusion or ignorance on facts or truths there [harsh dogmatism is wrong]; but much less so for willful disobedience to the truth and the right one does know [stubbornness in error and wrongdoing are just as wrong].

    11] That is, we must be willing to penitently respond to mind and conscience, to persevere in the way of the truth and the right. That is a crucial test, and it applies to all of us, at whatever temporal, or cultural or theological heritage and locus we may have.

    (And yes, I am a moderate, biblically guided “inclusivist” in my understanding of these texts. The gospel comes to a new culture as a breakthrough of truth, light and rescuing power, making explicit that which we may see in the world around, infer with our minds and sense from the promptings of our consciences. Christ is indeed the Light of Light who enlightens every man who has come into the world, a light that CANNOT be extinguished, however hard the forces and minions and dupes of darkness may try. But, each of us has a test in life and we must meet it with a determination to turn to the right and the truth, getting up when — not, if — we stumble. Our model should be Dionysius the Areopagite, not those who — having had to build a monument to ignorance on ultimate reality: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD — when they heard of the corrective truth, only managed to closed-mindedly mock and dismiss.)

    12] In this context, SB is right that we must heed the clear and strong testimony of nature:

    Ps 19: 1 ???????For the music director; a psalm of David.
    The heavens declare the glory of God;2
    the sky displays his handiwork.3
    2 ???????Day after day it speaks out;1
    night after night it reveals his greatness.2
    3 ???????There is no actual speech or word,
    nor is its1 voice literally heard.
    4 ???????Yet its voice echoes throughout the earth;
    its words carry to the distant horizon.

    Rom 1:19 . . . what can be known about God is plain to [people],1 because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people1 are without excuse.

    21 For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts1 were darkened. 22 Although they claimed1 to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings1 or birds or four-footed animals2 or reptiles. [NET. From duty, I add, painful though it may be for some to read this: it matters but little whether deceptive images and artful stories are in pagan temples or Natural History Museums and textbooks.]

    13] There is NEVER an excuse for atheism or pagan idolatry on the part of those who have sufficient awareness, intellect, education and knowledge to be critically reflective on the world around and mind and conscience inside.

    14] Hebrews 11 extends this, putting teeth into the concept of God in Rom 10 as BA cites:

    Heb 11: 1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see. 2 For by it the people of old1 received God’s commendation.2 3 By faith we understand that the worlds1 were set in order at God’s command,2 so that the visible has its origin in the invisible . . . . 6 Now without faith it is impossible to please him, for the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

    15] It is in this context that we may properly understand:

    Rom 10: 6 But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 or “Who will descend into the abyss?” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we preach), 9 because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and thus has righteousness and with the mouth one confesses and thus has salvation. 11 For the scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between the Jew and the Greek, for the same Lord is Lord of all, who richly blesses all who call on him. 13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

    16] So, indeed, there is much room for the confused or ignorant, but to indeed be a Christian and have scriptural assurance of sins forgiven, we must understand that the God who is creator is redeemer, that we are sinners in need of such redemption, and that it is through Christ that by repentant faith we find such salvation.

    17] That is why the creeds elaborate so specifically on the context of the core gospel teachings.

    18] And, it is why that core must not be sacrificed, and that is why we — especially those of reasonable intelligence and education — also need to understand the core in light of its biblical and historic context.

    19] Where does this leave Christian Darwinists?

    20] Plainly, there is room for flexible understandings of the specific mechanisms and even the timing of God’s creation. And, even for God’s use of physical laws and circumstances that he has set up.

    21] For instance, temperature is based on the random distribution of energy among molecules etc and so random motions and energy distributions play a key part in diffusion, osmosis, and many other processes relevant to life and to the operations of our planet. (And GP would remind us that triggered, controlled random search strategies are a part of our immune response. Without which we cannot live.)

    22] On the other hand, once we see sensitive dependence to initial conditions and non-linear dynamics, control in the long-term is formally impossible. That would hold even where Newtonian dynamics are a good model. And, quantum processes are generally viewed as inherently random in the relevant statistics.

    23] So, when we see the way the cosmos seems to be finely balanced at an operating point that permits the elements, abundances, stars, galaxies, planetary systems and habitable zones that are permitting to C-chemistry cell based life as we experience it, then the heavens do declare the glory of God and the expanse of the skies do show his handiwork. [Let us notice that Miller underscores this point in his writings.]

    24] When it comes to the origin of life,the digital code based information system involved, and the von Neumann requisites for a self-replicating facility for something that does a function separate form simply copying itself, point strongly to design again.

    25] The elaboration of that embedded information to make for major body plans, for trees, seaweed, crabs, worms [of various kinds], fish and men further underscores design.

    26] So do the credibility of our minds to access and comprehend truth and the way we find ourselves to be under moral government by the voice of conscience, and more.

    27] By contrast, full bore classical Darwinist thought seems to push to dismiss this evidence as a strong trend, indeed this is often institutionalised. However, the concept of God directing secondary causes in a manner inscrutable to science seems possible (even if questionable on the evidence of design that is being institutionally suppressed through outright a priori evolutionary materialism, or subtly through methodological naturalism).

    28] So, it is physically possible to be a Christian and a Darwinist of some kind, though purist Darwinists may privately beg to differ on the latter; and may view the former as a vestige that will eventually fade away.

    29] Whether such a view is consistent with the actual balance of the evidence for a designed cosmos is a different question. But, that is in the end something that we must each think through for ourselves.

    30] But, it is a fair conclusion to hold that the degree of common descent of life forms is not a matter that can overturn the premise that we are a Creation. For, mechanism and intent or initiation operate on utterly different levels.

    31] As do empirically detectable, well-warranted traces of design.

    _____________

    GEM of TKI

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