But Does it Move? Part 3

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July 6, 2012 Tags: Biblical Interpretation

Today's entry was written by John Lennox. Please note the views expressed here are those of the author, not necessarily of The BioLogos Foundation. You can read more about what we believe here.

But Does it Move? Part 3

Note: As it says at the top of the BioLogos Forum homepage, “We believe that charitable engagement of different perspectives within the Church helps sharpen our thinking and deepen our commitment to the truth that is hidden in Christ.” In that spirit, today we conclude a three-part series taken from chapter 2 of Dr. John Lennox’s recent book, Seven Days that Divide the World.

Though Lennox disagrees with several specific BioLogos positions (points he makes clear in later chapters), there is much we agree upon: namely, the trustworthiness of scientific evidence for an old earth, and the compatibility of an old earth with a faithful reading of Genesis. Most importantly, though, Lennox displays exactly the kind of gentle argumentation that we try to model through the Forum as a whole, and that should be a distinctive characteristic of Christians in the public square. We are pleased to be able to present this essay from Dr. Lennox as an example of both gracious dialogue and sound principles for interpreting scripture.

The first two parts of this series explored general principles for interpreting scripture. Dr. Lennox looked specifically at the controversy with Galileo over whether the earth moves, and what the Bible has to say (or not say) about it. In today’s final installment, Dr. Lennox reminds us that while scripture is truly authoritative, our particular interpretations of it are not always accurate.

Most of us would surely agree that it is important to distinguish between matters that belong to the core message of the Bible and issues that are less central, where there is room for variation in opinion.1 We also need to be prepared to distinguish between what Scripture actually says and what we think it means. It is Scripture that has the final authority, not our understanding of it. It is a sad spectacle, and one that brings discredit on the Christian message, when those who profess to believe that message belie their profession by fighting among themselves or caricaturing others, rather than engaging in respectful discussion through which all sides might just learn something.

In connection with the motion of the earth, we accept Augustine’s advice because we can now see that, although the Bible texts could be understood to support a fixed earth, there is a reasonable alternative interpretation of those texts that makes far more sense in light of our greater understanding of how the solar system operates.

We know now that the earth does not rest on literal foundations or pillars made of stone, concrete, or steel. We can therefore see that the words “foundations” and “pillars” are used in a metaphorical sense. However, it needs to be emphasized once more that the metaphors stand for realities. God the Creator has built certain very real stabilities into the planetary system that will guarantee its existence so long as is necessary to fulfill his purposes. Science has been able to show us that the earth is stable in its orbit over long periods of time, thanks in part to the obedience of gravity to an inverse square law, to the presence of the moon, which stabilizes the tilt of earth’s axis, and to the existence of the giant planet Jupiter, which helps keep the other planets in the same orbital plane.2 Earth’s stability, therefore, is very real. It is, if you wish, a literal or true stability, even though it does not now make sense to understand the word stability literalistically, as referring to motionlessness.

But there is something more. We accept the metaphorical interpretation because we can see that it is a perfectly sensible and informed understanding of the biblical text. The earth does not have to be at the center of the physical universe in order to be a center of God’s attention. Even though our interpretation relies on scientific knowledge, it does not compromise the authority of Scripture. And this is the important point. Scripture has the primary authority. Experience and science have helped decide between the possible interpretations that Scripture allows.

The vast majority of Christians are therefore perfectly happy with a metaphorical interpretation of the foundations and pillars of the earth. They do not regard it as contrived or subservient to science, even though science has helped them refine and adjust their interpretation.

What, then, should we think of the believers of earlier generations who, for hundreds of years, interpreted the biblical record in terms of a fixed earth? Would we accuse them of not believing the gospel and Scripture, just because they did not know what we now know? Of course not. For them that interpretation made sense of Scripture and fitted in with the best science of the day. Indeed, no one in the ancient world had evidence that the earth moved (although some, like Aristarchus of Samos, had guessed it).

Regarding the attitude of Luther and Calvin, John Hedley Brooke is insightful: “The important point is not whether Luther and Calvin happened to make peremptory remarks, exuding a lifetime’s confidence in a pre-Copernican cosmology, but whether their exegetical principles implied an inevitable clash as the new system gained in plausibility.”3 And Brooke suggests they did not.

Interestingly, the first hard evidence that the earth moved was not found until 1725, when James Bradley, Savilian Professor of Astronomy at Oxford and later Astronomer Royal, deduced it from his observation of the aberration of the star Gamma Draconis.4 The earlier Christian interpretation of Scripture in terms of a fixed earth did not attract the ridicule of nonbelievers, since fixed earth was the dominant view in society as a whole at the time. For many centuries most people never even bothered to question it, simply because there was no reason to do so.

However, once it became generally evident and accepted that the earth did move, and that the Scriptures could be interpreted consistently with that fact without compromising their integrity or authority, thereafter to maintain that Scripture insisted that the earth was fixed in the sky would leave one open to justifiable ridicule, and would bring Scripture into disrepute.

Final Lessons from Galileo

The Galileo incident teaches us that we should be humble enough to distinguish between what the Bible says and our interpretations of it. The biblical text might just be more sophisticated than we first imagined, and we might therefore be in danger of using it to support ideas that it never intended to teach. The Bible could be understood to teach that the earth was fixed. But it does not have to be understood that way. At least, Galileo thought so in his day, and history has subsequently proved him right.

Another lesson in a different direction, but one not often drawn, is that it was Galileo (who believed in the Bible) who was advancing a better scientific understanding of the universe. He was doing so, as we have seen, not only against the obscurantism of some churchmen, but (and first of all) against the resistance (and obscurantism) of the secular philosophers of his time, who, like the churchmen, were convinced disciples of Aristotle. Philosophers and scientists today also have need of humility in light of facts, even if those facts are being pointed out by a believer in God! Lack of belief in God is no more a guarantee of scientific orthodoxy than is belief in God. What is clear, concerning both Galileo’s time and ours, is that criticism of a reigning scientific paradigm5 is fraught with risk, no matter who engages in it.

Finally we see that there are two extremes to be avoided. The first is the danger of tying interpretation of Scripture too closely to the science of the day, as the fixed-earthers did—even though, as we have seen, it is hard to blame them in light of the fact that this view was then the reigning scientific paradigm. Indeed, it is for this reason that I prefer to speak of the convergence between interpretations of Scripture and science at a particular time—for example, the current convergence that there was a beginning, which we shall consider in due course.

The opposite danger is to ignore science. This, as Augustine warned, brings the gospel into disrepute. It is also an obscurantist attitude that finds no support in Scripture. In Romans 1:20, Paul, speaking about God, writes, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” If, therefore, we can learn things about God as Creator from the visible universe, it is surely incumbent upon us to use our God-given minds to think about what these things are, and thus to relate God’s general revelation in nature to his special revelation in his Word so that we can rejoice in both. After all, it was God who put the universe there, and it would be very strange if we had no interest in it.

Finding a balance is not always easy—but we seem to have managed it over the issue of the motion of the earth, even though it only took about seventeen hundred years to get there! I sincerely hope that this means there is hope for us on other controversies. We are about to consider one right now.

Notes

1. Of course there will often be difference of opinion as to what is central and what is peripheral.
2. From a mathematical point of view there are some chaotic elements in the dynamics of the planets. We cannot predict accurately where they will be situated in 100 million years’ time, because we cannot measure them accurately enough now. However, these chaotic elements appear to be bounded.
3. John Hedley Brooke, Science and Religion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 96.
4. A star that passes directly overhead in London. Bradley detected an annual variation in the apparent position of stars that was due to changes in the earth’s velocity. Such calculations lead to an estimate for earth’s orbital velocity of 30 km/sec.
5. A paradigm is a big picture or framework within which science is done.


John Lennox is Professor of Mathematics in the University of Oxford, Fellow in Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science, and Pastoral Advisor at Green Templeton College, Oxford. He is also an adjunct Lecturer at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University and at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics and is a Senior Fellow of the Trinity Forum. In addition, he teaches for the Oxford Strategic Leadership Program at the Executive Education Centre, Said Business School, Oxford University. He is author of several books, including Seven Days That Divide the World: The Beginning According to Genesis and Science.

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Roger A. Sawtelle - #70872

July 6th 2012

Even though I am in basic agreement with most of what is said here I would like to make two points.

First of all, contrary to common assumption and statement in this presentation, the Christian Biblical position is not that the Bible is the Word of God.  Jesus Christ is the Rational Word of God (Logos) as stated in John 1. 

This is our guarantee against reasoning that stated that if the Bible, in particularly the OT says something that goes against all reason, it still must be true because it is in the Bible. It has been said many times that if you work hard enough at it you can “prove” anything and everything by using quotes from the Bible.

The second point I would make is that there is an important difference between two kinds of truth, prepositional truth, which is basically scientific truth, and relational truth, which is theological truth. 

Prepositional truth is fact based and is very important.  Relational truth is more fundamental in that it basic to our world view and how we relate to the universe.  In our science based world we believe that all truth must be prepositional, but the Bible deals in relational truth, which is not prepositional.

Genesis 1 is basically about relational truth, that God created the universe out of nothing, and created all humans in God’s Image, and determined that the Creation is “Good!”  One way of expressing this was to put the Creation within the framework of the 7 (number of perfection)day week with the Sabbath day of rest as its climax.     

Relational truth should not contradict propositional truth.  They are on different levels of understanding, but conflicts may exist and do need to be resolved, because established facts should not run contrary to our world view as they do today.  We need to reconcile the relational Christian world view based on the Logos with traditional Western dualism which expects all truth to be prepositional.           


wesseldawn - #70938

July 7th 2012

“Finally we see that there are two extremes to be avoided. The first is the danger of tying interpretation of Scripture too closely to the science of the day, as the fixed-earthers did”

 

If as we teach that God is unchanging, then His words would be that way also!

God’s teachings would remain consistent throughout history and not be dependant upon current ideas. Nevertheless, they would be applicable to human beings in any generation.

Obviously the Prophets and Apostles had little or no scientific understanding but neither was that their hope: their hope was in the infallible God, revealed through the scriptures.

I love science and it’s important but I do not rely on it to show me the way to God!

Christianity is not the answer as it has failed to be consistent throughout the generations, which reveals error. The question that should be asked is “how and where did Christianity go wrong?”.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #70954

July 8th 2012

wesseldawn,

It is good to hear you say that your position or point of view is not Christian.

Certainly no Christian should accept your dualistic view of humanity. 


wesseldawn - #70960

July 8th 2012

Roger,

Please explain what you mean by my ‘dualistic view of humanity’!


Roger A. Sawtelle - #70966

July 9th 2012

wesseldawn,

Your understanding that the ruddy/body is not part of the Image of God.  Only the Spirit of humanity is the Image of God. 

Thus people have a dualistic nature, a physical animal body and a divine immortal spirit. 

Please correct me is I am mistaken. 


wesseldawn - #70987

July 9th 2012

I guess I’m dualistic then and if so then the Bible is dualistic also because it clearly says that in Gen. 2:7 man/ruddy was a living soul (the Greek translation of soul is “the animal principle only”).

Gen. 1:26 clearly agrees: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…”

The verses will not contradict each other. Both list man as coming first and the getting of God’s image as something that came after. 


Roger A. Sawtelle - #70998

July 10th 2012

wesseldawn,

Not at all.  Genesis 1:26-28 and Gen 2 describe the same event, the creation of humanity, just from different perspectives. 

It is also clear from the Bible that the Garden was very much an earthly paradise.  


wesseldawn - #71004

July 10th 2012

RE your comment that Gen. 1:26-28 and Gen. 2 describe the same event:

Gen. 1:30 “beast of the earth”

Gen. 2:8 “the Lord God planted a garden eastward, in Eden”

Eden is Heaven - garden Paradise - the place where God dwells.

*Daniel prayed towards the east and the wise men who visited the Child, Jesus came from the east!

“And paradise is in the east of the earth, beyond the border of the world westward” (Books of Adam and Eve)

“So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden, Cherubims...” (Gen. 3:24)

Cherubims are ‘angel’s’ so then the garden is an immortal place, which means that Gen. 1:26-28 and Gen. 2 are very different places!

Man had its beginnings on the earth, it was initially a creature of the earth. But then God placed man in the immortal garden (2:8)

 

God’s image would be as He is - immortal/eternal!

Everything on the earth is mortal!!

I have said, You are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.7 But you shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.” (Psalm 82:6-7)

We are gods in the sense that we have God’s image (an immortal spirit) but our mortal physical bodies will go the way of all humanity (die like men):

“Then shall the dust (physical body) return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” (Eccl. 12:7)- physical body, mine) 

Jesus said to the thief on his right “today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43) but it also says “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matt. 12:40).

How could Jesus be in Paradise and in the heart of the earth at the same time?

Obviously it means that Jesus’ spirit went to Paradise that day but his flesh/body into ‘the earth’ for three days and three nights. Dualistic!!

 


Roger A. Sawtelle - #71012

July 10th 2012

Yes, you are definitely dualistic.


Francis - #70952

July 8th 2012

Wesseldawn,

You wrote: “Christianity is not the answer as it has failed to be consistent throughout the generations, which reveals error. The question that should be asked is “how and where did Christianity go wrong?””

I fully agree that the wide Christian world has had flip-flops on matters of faith and morals, and has “evolved” into many new “species.” (Many of these Christian “species” no longer “interbreed”.)

Of course, the historical consistency of a teaching is no guarantee of the truth of the teaching; but a lack of essential consistency (i.e. a contradiction in teaching) is a reliable indication of falsehood.

For the truth doesn’t change. And Scripture is clear that the teaching of it mustn’t change either:  

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Mat 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33

“He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

“So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.” 2 Thes 2:15

                                                                                                                                       

What do you think is the most serious consistency failure of Christianity (top 1 or 2)?


wesseldawn - #70961

July 8th 2012

Francis,

I simply mean that Christianity has changed over the course of time (i.e. creationism to ID, or 7 day view to 6 days), but “God is unchanging”. The inconsistency cannot be with God, therefore, it has to be Christianity that’s wrong!

Christianity it not holding to the “traditions which you were taught” as the prophets and apostles taught wisdom:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” (See also Job 28:28)

 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. And the knowledge of the holy is called understanding.” (Prov. 9-10)

  “For the Lord gives wisdom: out of his mouth comes knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:6)

 Wisdom/knowledge/understanding = synonyms

 “Does not wisdom cry out, And understanding lift up her voice?...For my mouth will speak truth; Wickedness is an abomination to my lips. All the words of my mouth are with righteousness; Nothing crooked or perverse is in them.” (Proverbs 8:1-8)

 ”Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding...” (Proverbs 4:7-9)

 “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.” (Eph. 1:17)

 “For wisdom is better than rubies, And all the things one may desire cannot be compared with her.” (Proverbs 8:11)

 “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.” (Prov. 31:10)

 *Wisdom is ‘better than rubies’ and the virtuous wife is ‘far above rubies’ – therefore, “wisdom is the virtuous wife”!

 ”She considers a field and buys it.” (Prov. 31:16)

 ”...the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matthew 13:44)

 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:46)

 

*So we see that wisdom is the Proverbs 31 woman (her/she) and ‘the pearl of great price’!

  

“He who gets wisdom loves his own soul.” (Proverbs 19:8)

 

Human beings have attempted to explain divine words and confused them (i.e. religion)! God is quite capable of explaining His own words and He does so through the confirming principle you see here. I can do this with all of the Bible and each of these verses  intertwine with others verses on other topics (amazing - to my mind).


Roger A. Sawtelle - #70971

July 9th 2012

wesseldawn,

You are mistaken.  The kingdom of heaven is salvation, eternal life with God, not wisdom.

Why don’t you just spit it out?  You are a Gnostic. 


wesseldawn - #70988

July 9th 2012

If you can call me a Gnostic (which I’m not) then I guess I can call you a Pharisee!

I hardly invented those verses and they are clear that wisdom is the way to God’s kingdom. It’s the principle thing. Without it no one will see God. And I only quoted a fraction of the verses (both Old and New Testaments) that speak about it.

I think that you’re so used to hearing the gospel according to Roger that you can’t appreciate the true genius (God’s) of what I just showed you - that the scriptures are self-interpreting. And only God gets the glory because He wrote it!!  It should excite you but instead you throw out petty insults.


wesseldawn - #70990

July 9th 2012

Too, I should bring up Matthew 25: five of the virgins were wise (had wisdom) and only they were commended, whereas the five foolish (did not know wisdom) were not ready when the Bridegroom appeared.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #70997

July 10th 2012

Yes, but how were they ready? 

They had sufficient oil (Spirit of Love) for their lamps (lives) so they were prepared for Jesus even if He arrived later than expected i.e. the Second Coming was delayed. 


wesseldawn - #71006

July 10th 2012

The wise were ready because they had oil/wisdom in their lamps (spirits).

The foolish however, had completely ‘run out’ of oil (“our lamps have gone out”). That’s the reason why they had to ask the wise for their oil because the foolish didn’t have any (were devoid of wisdom/not wise).

“the door was shut” (Matt. 25:10)

“and they said Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not” (Matt. 25:11)

 

No where does it say that the second coming was delayed - if anything the scriptures say that the time was “shortened for the sake of the elect” (Matt. 24:22, Mark 13:20)


Roger A. Sawtelle - #70995

July 10th 2012

wesseldawn,

Gnostics claim that right knowledge (gnosis) or wisdom is the basis of salvation and so do you.  If that is wrong, tell how I am wrong.  If I share the beliefs of the Pharisees, explain what you mean.  It is not an insult to correctly label a theological view, but again if I am mistaken please explain me how I am.     

On the other hand Paul following Jesus writing against gnosticism (knowledge puffs up while love builds up) establishes that Agape Love and the Holy Spirit of Love is the basis of salvation.  Please read 1 Cor 13. 

Jesus made it clear that agape love was the basis of being a true child of God, not wisdom. 

I do not particularly enjoy bursting your bubble, but really you really do not have to search the Bible looking for texts to prove an old theory that still has many followers.  Paul in I Corinthians and Romans is quite clear and definitive about what selvation is all about.  If you are serious about finding the Truth, please read Paul’s letters.

 


wesseldawn - #71007

July 10th 2012

What about the scriptures that I quoted about wisdom Roger? What will you do with those?

If you don’t think that Proverbs is scripture then here are some more:

1. And thou shalt speak unto all that are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office. (Exodus 28:2-4)

2. And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the LORD commanded Moses. (Deut. 34:8-10)

3. And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment. (1 Kings 3:28)

4. And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore. (1 Kings 4:29)

5. No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls: for the price of wisdom is above rubies. (Job 28:18)

6. Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: (Col. 1:28,  see also 3:16)

7. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5)

8. And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. (REe. 7:19)

We need wisdom in order to figure out what the seven heads and seven mountains are.

Of course this is a very short list of the verses that speak of the necessity of being wise (“in all your getting, get wisdom”) in order to be ready when the Bridegroom appears.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #71011

July 10th 2012

So you are a Gnostic, right?


wesseldawn - #71066

July 12th 2012

This could be constued as harrassment as I already told you that I was not a Gnostic. You are the otherhand are most definitely a Pharisee!


Roger A. Sawtelle - #71073

July 13th 2012

wesseldawn,

Sorry, but your claim does not pas the “duck test.”


wesseldawn - #71094

July 14th 2012

you mean ‘Roger’ test!!


Roger A. Sawtelle - #71097

July 14th 2012

wesseldawn,

If it looks like a duck, if it sounds like a duck, if it swims like a duck, and if it flies like a duck, you can be sure it is a duck. 


wesseldawn - #71108

July 15th 2012

Well I suppose that I would rather be called a Gnostic than a Pharisee!!

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Prov. 1:7)


Roger A. Sawtelle - #71118

July 15th 2012

AMEN


darwin.dissenters - #70978

July 9th 2012

‘The first is the danger of tying interpretation of Scripture too closely to the science of the day, as the fixed-earthers did.’—- Quite so, but are we not in danger of doing that with modern science with insistence that Darwinian evolution and long ages must be accepted as true because they are currently the best scientific ideas?

‘The opposite danger is to ignore science.’—- I think we should take science seriously when it is directly testable, but still all of our knowledge of the world is limited and is built upon prior foundational commitments that are metaphysical. All our scientific models merely approximate reality. Kuhn saw science as a problem solving exercise, not a search for truth, although others see it in that way. The problem here for the origins question is that although we can now measure the age, size and shape of the solar system in real time, the size and age of the universe is subject to what Popper called the principle of empiricism - it is part of the problem of induction that Newton and Hume recognised. We cannot go to the other side of the universe and conduct experiments, neither can we go back to the big bang. Our ‘knowledge’ of the universe in terms of size and age is based upon untestable assumptions. Again the question of geocentricism is not directly relevant to questions about origins.

Furthermore, another part of the problem I think is to have a wrong view of science. Science is a God-given enterprise that should be enjoyed as part of a Christian vocation, but science should not be idolised by effectively elevating it to the level of the divine Word. Yes, we need to interpret Scripture, but there is the question of scientific hermeneutics that is often ignored by Christians in science. Let us find a proper balance between the two by recognising our use of scientific interpretations in establishing ‘facts’.  


Roger A. Sawtelle - #70983

July 9th 2012

darwin dissenters,

According to the Bible, the Bible is not the divine Word.  While it is holy, it is certainly not divine, in that people are not supposed to worship it.  Only Jesus Christ can be called the divine Word as stated in John 1. 

That makes Jesus superior to the Bible and to Gen 1.  Sadly too few people take into account that the Bible says that Jesus Christ is the rational Word, Logos, of God Who gives form, structure, and meaning to the universe.  

This NT view of the universe and science demonstrates the problems of both Darwinism and Creationism.   


wesseldawn - #70991

July 9th 2012

Apples and oranges - holy and divine are the same things! You cannot say one is less than the other because they are one and the same - afterall, they are Jesus’ words spoken from His mouth. You cannot separate the speaker from what is spoken!


Gregory - #70994

July 10th 2012

“You cannot separate the speaker from what is spoken!”

That is what the IDM is attempting to do by insisting that ‘we are designed,’ but cannot (scientifically) speak of the ‘designer/Designer.’


Roger A. Sawtelle - #71000

July 10th 2012

Of course you are right in saying that ID wants to say that the universe and life is designed so we can say that it points to a Designer and that it primarily the reason that Science pushes against ID.

The problem with the ID approach is not theoretical, because almost all Christians would say that the universe is designed and even people like Dawkins agree that it appears to be designed.  The problem is that ID claims that evolution is too complex to have been caused by “natural” causes alone, so there must be some supernatural intervention along the line.   

If one means by “natural” purely materialistic change, ID is right, but nature is more than matter/energy.  Nature is designed by the Logos, so it is rational.  Nature is also a product of the Holy Spirit so it has a Teleos or Purpose and thus is spiritual. 

Thus evolution is designed because nature is designed.  Humans can be rational beings because the universe has a rational aspect.  Humans can be spiritual beings because the universe has a spiritual aspect. 

 


wesseldawn - #71009

July 10th 2012

I suppose one could say that we are designed in the sense that we got God’s image (which is clearly a supernatural image as God is immortal).

At the same time, man in Gen. 2:7 (before the garden) was clearly a product of evolution!

We are dual creatures, both from earth (soul/physical body) and heaven (having got God’s image/spirit) but the IDM does not seem to understand this.

Too, if Satan became ‘the god of this world’, I must wonder what things were like before that?


Roger A. Sawtelle - #71031

July 11th 2012

wesseldawn,

Satan is not God in any real sense.  It is an insult to God to indicate that he is or might be.  He is no more a God than Zeus or Jupiter was.   

Satan is a Liar and a bogus or pretend ruler of this world.


wesseldawn - #71067

July 12th 2012

Why do you think that Satan was so intent on deceiving Eve? Because he hoped Adam would follow, in which case the creation would be forfeited to Lucifer’s control.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

“In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2 Cor. 4:4) 

“Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2)


Roger A. Sawtelle - #71071

July 13th 2012

wesseldawn,

No one is saying that evil is not real or without power, but there is no place in the Bible that says that Lucifer, Satan, or the Devil controls God’s Creation. 

If you want verification of this, read Job.  God allowed Satan to do certain things against Job.  Satan did not have any power independent of God. 

This is the basis of your dualism which is not acceptable to Biblical Christianity. 


wesseldawn - #71093

July 14th 2012

“And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world” (John 8:23)

“Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.” (John 18:36)

“Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.” (John 14:30) 

 

If this world were God’s, Jesus would never have had to die!


Roger A. Sawtelle - #71098

July 14th 2012

You cannot place the responsibility for the death of Jesus on God, or Adam, or Satan. 

Jesus died because of our sins, you and me and no one else. 


Roger A. Sawtelle - #70996

July 10th 2012

wesseldawn,

No where in the Bible does it say that the Bible is the words of God or Jesus, except where God or Jesus are specifically quoted.

Genesis indicates that God spoke the universe into existence.  Does that make the universe divine?  Following your reasoning would lead us to monism of the Spirit. 

The Bible is a divinely inspired book.  That does not make it the Son the second Person of the Trinity, or the Spirit the third Person of the Trinity. 

Humans worship the divine, which another word for God.  We respect and revere the holy, but do not worship the holy.  


wesseldawn - #71008

July 10th 2012

“Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away” (Mark 13:31)

Jesus is clearly equating himself with ‘his words’.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #71013

July 10th 2012

Wesseldawn,

He meant His promises or covenant with God’s people. 

We trust His words because we trust Jesus.  People try to put their own interpretations on the words found in the Bible, instead of trying to understand what God meant.

Then they claim that their ideas are true because they are “in the Bible,” but of course they are not.  Their ideas are just projected into the Bible, just as Creationists project their ideas into Genesis based on a modern, weak theology.    


wesseldawn - #71068

July 12th 2012

1) “Specially the day that thou stoodest before the LORD thy God in Horeb, when the LORD said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children” (Deut. 4:10, 11:18, 18:18,)

“Hear my words, O ye wise men; and give ear unto me, ye that have knowledge.” (Job 34:2, Prov. 2:1, Isaiah 59:21, Jer. 1:9, 29:19, Ezk. 3:4) 

“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”  (Matt. 24:35, Luke 21:33)

“He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” (John 12:48) 

*You can tell they are God’s words because of this amazing ability to repeat each other from OT to NT.

2) You are correct, the universe is not divine because it was changed after it was forfeited to Satan (he was cast to the earth - “dust shalt thou eat”) who became the god of this world.

3) I agree about the trinity, the Bible only mentions two states: Father (Spirit/Holy Spirit) and Son (Jesus)!

4) “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” (Phil. 3:3)


Roger A. Sawtelle - #71074

July 13th 2012

wesseldawn,

The Father is no way the Spirit.  Both are God, but the Father works through the Spirit. 


wesseldawn - #71095

July 14th 2012

“God is a Spirit...” (John 4:24)


Roger A. Sawtelle - #71099

July 14th 2012

wesseldawn,

Now come on, do you want me to argue the Trinity on this blog?

Read On the Trinity by Augustine or my book The GOD Who RELATES.

God is the Father/Creator, the Son/Savior/Logos, and the Holy Spirit/Love.


wesseldawn - #71109

July 15th 2012

No thank you, I’ve read quite enough of your stuff here!


darwin.dissenters - #70999

July 10th 2012

Roger - I did not say Scripture is God - just that if we say that science is a source of truth equal to divine revelation, then we idolised science - and the scientist. 


Roger A. Sawtelle - #71014

July 10th 2012

darwin disenters,

Science is about nature, while revelation is about faith. 

Science does not tell us Who God is, and revelation does not tell us how nature works.

Science is not a source of equal truth, unless one see our relationship to nature as important or more than our relationship to God and others.  This is what seems to be the problem these days.  Not that science is superior, but that people are more materialistic. 

The issue as I see it is not to deny the materialistic aspect of life and reality, but to show how God works in and through this world that God created ex nihilo.  We do not do that by making the Bible and its dated science absolute or divine.


darwin.dissenters - #71017

July 10th 2012

But ‘nature’ does not exist independently of God - this division into how and why questions is itself a dualism that I don’t recognise, and all of science may be seen as a form of natural theology - early scientists studied creation to get closer to understanding the mind of God. My belief is that although natural theology is good in its proper place, it must be subordinate to revelation - or else we make science into an idol. 

Theological truths are also signified throughout the Old Testament through real events - and that is an interpretative framework shared by Augustine and modern creationists. 

Of course we need to interpret Scripture correctly, but we should also seek to interpret science more carefully than we do - foundational commitments are untestable, but important to the answers we get.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #71030

July 11th 2012

d. d.,

It seems that you are on the right track, but going in the wrong direction.  The problem indeed is dualism, but the answer is not monism.

Theology agrees that nature does not exist independently of God, but is clear that it is autonomous from God, just as humans are created by God and thus are totally dependent on God for life and all that we are, yet we are autonomous in that we are free honor God or not.  Of course this freedom has consequences, so there limits to our freedom, but we are free and thus autonomous nonetheless.

Humans are dependent on God, but not totally dependent.  We are independent of God, but not totally independent.  This makes us independent with God, or relational. 

What is more remarkable is that God is interdependent to humans.  Of course God independent of humans and the universe, but the Christian gospel (and to a lesser extent the Jewish faith) proclaims that God cares about humanity and not some of humanity, but all of humanity. 

This makes God in a real sense psychologically dependent on humanity.  No that God needs to be saved to be fulfilled, but God wants us to be saved, so in that sense God is unfulfilled until humanity is complete and fulfilled.

Humans after the universe itself are composed of the physical, rational, and the spiritual.  Not a duality, which is the problem of our current Western view.  Thus we need to go beyond dualism to a trinune view of the universe rooted in the Christian understanding of God, not a dualistic Judeo-Greek understanding of Reality or a monistic pagan understanding Reality.

The problem is basically our dualistic philosophical view of reality which is not true and has corrupted the understanding of both science and theology and cannot be fixed until we address this underlying problem.

If you are truly interested, I weill send you my book, Darwin’s Myth.   

 


Francis - #70985

July 9th 2012

Professor Lennox wrote “…there is a reasonable alternative interpretation of those texts that makes far more sense in light of our greater understanding of how the solar system operates.”

Given that we’re talking partly about our “greater understanding” of the earth and the solar system, I’m going to add the following:

I’ve been hearing about the Big Bang for seems like forever. I’ve also heard of the universe expanding (sometimes called Inflationary Theory). I recall laughing about the latter in 1977. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5U1-OmAICpU

I didn’t know how well Inflation Theory was holding up, given the corrections and contradictions I regularly discover scientists in various fields making.

Today, I came upon a couple quotes made in the last month which I thought were so incredible that I just couldn’t keep them to myself:

1) “Inflation has destroyed itself. It logically self-destructed.” Max Tegmark, Physics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Yet

2) “Inflation is STILL the DOMINANT PARADIGM. But we’ve become a lot less convinced that it’s obviously true.” Sean Carroll, Physics professor at the California Institute of Technology.

http://www.andyross.net/inflation.htm

 

Reminded me of evolution. No matter what the evolutionists discover, no matter how confusing or contradicting, the theory stands. They’ll just say things like “This sheds new light on the xyz aspect of evolution” &/or “This provides a whole new facet worthy of continued study (and funding?)” Evolution ALWAYS remains the dominant paradigm, new problematic discoveries be damned.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #70986

July 9th 2012

Francis,

Until you or someone else can come up with a cogent alternative, that is true.


wesseldawn - #71069

July 12th 2012

Francis,

I don’t know how you can say that inflation in not true for the Bible clearly agrees with it:

 

“I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded. ” (Isaiah 45:12)

“He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.” (Jer. 10:12)

“He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heaven by his understanding.” (Jer. 51:15)

stretched out = spread out


Joriss - #71083

July 13th 2012

Roger,
You make a difference between words in the bible that are directly spoken by Jesus or God Himself, and words that are not. The first you call : word(s) of God, but not the latter. So you think it is wrong to say: the bible is the word of God. I have some objections.
Of course we can only worship God and Jesus by the holy Spirit and not the bible itself, that would be idolatry. But I find enough reason in the bible self to call it: the word of God. Jesus is the Logos, the Word of God, by whom everything was created. And the Word has become flesh and has lived among us. But every word, spoken by the Lord, is called logos too, e.g. the word of the Lord that came to Abraham, to the Jewish people, to the prophets. When the N.T. refers to these words, it refers to them as logos almost every time.
But aren’t the authors of the O.T. inspired by God’s Spirit, are not these words the result of God breathing them in by his Spirit? When I read the history of the Exodus, not only the things God said to Moses and to Aron and others, but also the description of the things that happened in the wilderness, the plagues, the mannah, the water from the rocks, the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire, God’s providence, then it seems to me that this also is the very word of God.
On mount Sinai God says to Moses that the Israelites should keep the sabbath, because in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth….and rested the seventh day etc. Here the same words, written in Genesis 1 are spoken by the Lord Himself. So that is a clear indication that Genesis 1 is the word of God as well.
It is not my intention to discuss about evolution/creation. About this issue I have not been able to make up my mind so far.
But that the bible is absolutely worthy to be named word of God, I’m fully convinced. Even the N.T. gives a strong indication:
And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the gentiles by faith….(Gal. 3 : 8).
But the Scripture has confined all under sin…. (Gal. 3 : 22).
Here you see that the Scripture is so much a by God authorised extension of God Himself that it is spoken of, as if it is foreseeing, confining, speaking as if it were God Himself; in this way Paul speaks of it.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #71086

July 13th 2012

Joriss,

It is the Bible itself that makes the distinction between the Word of God, Jesus Christ, Who is God, and scripture which could be called the word of God, which is not God. 

Also we have the Old Testament covenant of God with the Jews which is not final or ultimate, and the New Testament covenant of God with all God’s people which is final and ultimate because it is based on Jesus Christ.

Hebrews and John are clear.  There is a huge difference between the Old and New Covenant. 

Heb 1:1 (NIV) In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2  but in these Last Days He has spoken to us by His Son, Whom He appointed Heir of all things, and through Whom He made the universe.    

There are two versions of the Decalogue found in the Torah.  They differ only in the rationale for the keeping of the Sabbath, so it is not clear which version YHWH gave Moses on Sinai.  On the other hand Jesus said that neither He or the His Father ceased from working after the Creation denying that basis for the Sabbath.

Thus there are New Testament reasons to say that Genesis 1 is not the final and definitive statement of God concerning the Creation.

God does things for a reason.  God did not reveal Jesus to Abraham, nor did God reveal all the secrets of the Creation in Genesis 1 and 2. 


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