“I am the Lord of the Dance,”said He, Part 2

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October 29, 2010 Tags: Christian Unity

Today's entry was written by Darrel Falk. You can read more about what we believe here.

“I am the Lord of the Dance,”said He, Part 2

Part 1 of Darrel's series can be found here.

I have just returned home from the Vibrant Dance of Faith and Science Conference in Austin, Texas.

This is likely the first conference of its sort ever held. Although no young earth creation organizations were represented, many from Reasons to Believe and The Discovery Institute were there. Several of us who hold to the evolutionary creation perspective were asked to speak and lead breakout sessions as well.

I first learned of this meeting about a year and a half ago. At the time, we at BioLogos were very hesitant to participate and initially turned down the invitation. Not knowing the organizers, and based upon the prescribed set of speakers in the breakout sessions, our initial thoughts were that the BioLogos invite was largely tokenism. To be honest, we suspected that we were included largely to provide the impression that the view which accepts that mainstream biology is correct—was on the table. We doubted that it really was.

However, about a year ago, I had my first conversation with Larry Linenschmidt, one of the two organizers of the meeting. He stressed that our representation would be more than tokenism and indicated that some people whose work I highly admire would also be present. He assured me there would be broad representation of topics in the breakout sessions—that the deck would not be stacked. He also told me that the overarching theme of this meeting was Christian unity and that all speakers and participants would be held to a very high standard in this regard. I learned that he and his co-organizer, Dan Heinze, would visit with each speaker to ensure that all clearly understood the intended tone of the meeting. Upon receiving those assurances, I told him I would be honored to participate; the meeting’s purpose aligned nicely with ours.

The meeting proceeded at a grueling pace. It started each morning at 8:30 a.m. and went almost non-stop until about 9:00 p.m. On the first day, I did a 55 minute plenary talk at 4:00 p.m., a plenary testimony soon after dinner, and then led a breakout session immediately after that. On the second day, I participated in a plenary panel discussion and led another breakout session in the evening. Finally on the third day I participated in a panel discussion. Many of the speakers had a similar schedule; indeed mine was likely not as heavy as that of some of the others. Every detail of the meeting was planned in intricate detail and I have seldom, if ever, been to a meeting so carefully organized.

There was one session I was invited to co-lead about which I have always been very hesitant. The organizers knew how concerned I was about this session—a direct exchange in a breakout with Stephen Meyer. I have held the position that I would not engage in a public interchange with those who view creation so differently unless we who hold the pro-mainstream-biology position first met informally with those who hold the alternative view. The purpose of such a meeting would be to focus on that which we have in common—which is almost everything when one is a follower of Jesus. I wanted such a meeting to take place—a time of prayer, Bible study, worship, along with a time of thinking together about aspects of our projects where we have common goals and vision. I have wanted that meeting to take place before we publically engaged issues about which we disagree.

So although I had been especially hesitant about this one session, the organizers assured me that since they were travelling to personally meet with each speaker, I could be assured that even this session would exemplify Christians working together in a spirit of Christ-centered unity. We might differ on scientific and theological details, but we each would be held accountable to work within this context. I appreciated that.

It is hard to imagine anyone not recognizing how sensitive these discussions are. On the creation issue, the spirit of acrimony rather than the spirit of love, has too often ruled the day within the Christian community. This has done great harm to the cause of Christ. I know firsthand how fragile these discussions are and I was extremely hesitant to accept until the private meeting I desired had taken place. But the organizers, who I have appreciated so much, reassured me. I agreed to a breakout session with Steve Meyer.

Five days before the meeting, the Discovery Institute posted a statement about the upcoming event:

“Next week the Vibrant Dance of Faith and Science becomes the God and evolution showdown in Austin…”

The posting then went on to state:

Attendees have three days of speakers and sessions but should prepare for a rumble on Thursday, October 28, when Stephen Meyer and Doug Axe will go up against Darrel Falk and Randy Isaac in a debate on the origin of life…

The way this was described by the Discovery Institute was exactly what had concerned me most about this meeting. Knowing that this may have been inadvertently put up by someone who was not aware of the intention of the meeting, I immediately contacted the organizers and asked that the statement be taken down and that it be replaced with a statement which indicated an assurance that the Discovery Institute was committed to enter into our breakout session, not in the spirit of a “God and evolution showdown” or a “rumble” but within the Spirit of Christian unity. I felt the task was difficult enough as it was that unless we both clarified our mutual commitment from the start it had the potential to harm the Church.

The organizers asked the Discovery Institute to take the statement down; it was not granted. I was told that it was an Associate Director of the Discovery Institute who had denied the request. I felt strongly that there was a need to publically acknowledge that the tone of the post was not consistent with the nature of the meeting. I also felt that it was important to make a public statement about our commitment to work together in the Spirit of Christ. Because an Associate Director of the Institute acknowledged that he knew about it and wouldn’t grant the request, I pulled out.

BioLogos remains more concerned than ever about ensuring that we all—together as Christians—can come to peace with mainstream science, including biology. We do not think it is fundamentally flawed even though we know there are those who have misused it for their own philosophical agendas. We look forward to ongoing discussions with those who see things differently---but not where it has been announced to be a showdown and not where it has been presented as a rumble.


Darrel Falk is former president of The BioLogos Foundation. He transitioned into Christian higher education 25 years ago and has given numerous talks about the relationship between science and faith at many universities and seminaries. He is the author of Coming to Peace with Science.

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pds - #37527

October 30th 2010

Darrel,

The statement was made by a blogger who was not participating in the conference.  Most people would recognize the words “rumble” and “showdown” to be common metaphors for a debate.  They do not suggest to me an uncivil debate.  Did Stephen Meyer do anything uncivil or give you any reason to believe that the discussion would be uncivil?

Compare what the blogger wrote to what Karl Giberson wrote about Michael Behe- accusing him of asserting knowing falsehoods and hurling other insults.  Which is worse?  Should Giberson retract his statements?  I don’t want Giberson to self-censor his prior comments, but an apology or explanation would be nice.

This looks like you refused to debate because the Discovery Institute refused to censor one of its bloggers.  I don’t think self-censorship is the key to Christian unity.

I fully support civil discourse by all parties.  If we are honest, we must admit that both sides have crossed the line at times.


beaglelady - #37531

October 30th 2010

The Panda’s Thumb weighed in on the DI’s tactics here.  There is nothing wrong with a debate if that is what’s publicly on the agenda. I’ve been to one.  It’s the bait-and-switch aspect of this that is objectionable.


beaglelady - #37535

October 30th 2010

Papalinton,


You are missing my point.  While many Bible stories, especially in the OT,  are not 100% historical, they often do  have a reflection in history.  The countries, places, people groups, technology, culture,  flora and fauna can usually be shown to have existed.  The same can’t be said for the Book of Mormon’s description of the ancient Jews sailing to the Americas,  having horses, elephants, wheat, steel, etc.  there in Book of Mormon times.


beaglelady - #37536

October 30th 2010

I’d like to add that there is also much in the Bible that is historical.


Headless Unicorn Guy - #37579

October 30th 2010

And all this time the Discovery Institute has been telling us that intelligent design has nothing to do with religion and specifically Christianity….—Michael Fugate - #37431

No matter what Intelligent Design originally meant, it has become only the latest coat of camouflage paint for Young Earth Creationism Uber Alles.


merv - #37592

October 30th 2010

Papalinton, actually I see a big difference between Paul and Joseph Smith.  You could have chosen a better and more parallel example in the following:  If Richard Dawkins today suddenly announced that he had been “touched by God” and had a total change of heart and wanted to repent of his vitriol against religion and that he now understood that science really doesn’t have to be understood in an anti-Christian sense——- if anything like that happened, you can bet your patooties I would sit up and take stock much more than for someone like Joseph Smith.  Regarding Paul, he had a virtually unmatched zeal against Christians.  You can point to epileptic seizures or whatever if that makes you feel better (note that I don’t necessarily disagree over such explanations), but given the comfort that Paul gave up and he went on to do and suffer it appears God’s hand was in it.  A big part of what this site is about is that natural explanations (seizures, etc.) don’t necessarily conflict with theological interpretation of the same. 

With Dawkins, though, I would continue to be curious and watch how the rest of his like unfolded—so the skeptic is still cautious, knowing that emotional euphoria can be shortlived.


merv - #37593

October 30th 2010

correction on last post, last sentence should read:  “...how the rest of his *life* unfolded ...”


merv - #37624

October 30th 2010

Robert asked:  “Why this desire to be kick booty and take no prisoners style so appealing??”

Which news sells better;  a world class wrestling match between two juggernauts perceived (even if wrongly) to be arch-competitors to each other?  Or two folks sitting down to have a civil conversation about the issues?

...and lest this be perceived as “blaming the media” ....  we need to remember, the question is what does our society buy?  as in literally “purchase”?  A little economic natural selection does the rest, and bingo!  We have tabloids and papers beating the bushes for the next David & Goliath.  And if D & G don’t want to fight, then maybe a little provocation is in order?  (Maybe Dawkins & a few high profile YEC institutions have both found some bonus funding from a similar source?)  Sorta like arms dealers supplying both sides.  Gotta keep the ol’ economy going—keep fear & paranoia alive!

—Merv


Papalinton - #37625

October 30th 2010

@ Merv

Hi

Sorry Merv, your statement,  “You can point to epileptic seizures or whatever if that makes you feel better (note that I don’t necessarily disagree over such explanations), but given the comfort that Paul gave up and he went on to do and suffer it appears God’s hand was in it”  is not what would be called substantive fact or evidence in any shape.  I don’t buy your argument for one moment. There are countless examples of people throughout history suffering or enduring personal grief and hardship for a belief that proved fruitless and counterfeit.  I suspect the North Vietnamese soldier would die a most vicious and honourable death for his leader, as indeed the Japanese did in WW2 for their Emperor.  There is nothing out of the ordinary in Paul’s story in terms of suffering great personal privations believing in a purported ‘true belief’.  Ask any true believer Muslim, Shi’ite or Sunni.

But you see, that is the stuff of legend, that is how legends work;  it is the legendizing that makes the story.

Cheers


merv - #37652

October 30th 2010

You aren’t being asked to buy it, and I’m not pretending it to be any sort of proof.  I only offer that Christians aren’t as incoherent as you seem to imply in some of your posts.  They simply find the evidence more convincing than you choose to.

You wrote:  “There are countless examples of people throughout history suffering or enduring personal grief and hardship for a belief that proved fruitless and counterfeit.”

...knock a couple magnitudes off “countless” to get down to the ones who were “sold out” for that cause but then encountered a revelation that made them do a virtual “about-face” giving even greater zeal to the side they were busy eradicating.  Then knock off a couple more magnitudes yet to get to the ones who did become “the stuff of legends” due to their leading (or joining) in some movement that endures through the ages.  I agree with you that there are fantastic legends (some true or about truth); stories to be retold, indeed!

—Merv


Papalinton - #37704

October 31st 2010

@ Merv

North Korean soldier is probably what I meant to refer to.

Cheers


Cal - #37802

October 31st 2010

Papalinton:

You are mixing apples and oranges. Not only do you have to take someone who is completely given over, in overzealous service, to a cause (i.e. your Japanese or North Korean Soldier). You have to have him in the midst of under going his duty and then suddenly, and instantly changing his mind. And this wouldn’t just be any schmo, this would have to be equivalent to a high ranking officer in the Japanese/Korean army who not only had the zeal, but a reputation to follow.

You ask for others to be skeptical, yes that’s what we would do. In fact, that’s the what the original 12 disciples do. Paul has such a reputation of being a killer and rooter out of Christians, that they can hardly believe the reports that he was joined their ranks. It took time for Peter and the others to build up the trust enough to approach Paul, and I’d say it would still be rank with caution.


Papalinton - #37824

October 31st 2010

Hi Cal

“It took time for Peter and the others to build up the trust enough to approach Paul, and I’d say it would still be rank with caution.”

You know this as fact?  Or is this your reading, your interpretation of the relationship?  Aren’t you simply invoking your own emotions as to how such a relationship would enact? 

I have not been able to draw out the tenor of that relationship from reading those instances of Paul’s meeting [s?] with Peter.

Cheers


Cal - #37832

October 31st 2010

Papalinton:

“When [Saul] came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the Disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how [Saul] on his journey and had…preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus” Acts 9:26-27

They needed a trusted friend to vouch before them before trusting Paul. I’d say that’s caution.


Barry - #37833

October 31st 2010

What is Biologos doing even considering sharing a platform with an organizaion like DI that lies about science in the name of god? I thought the whole idea of Biologos was to attempt (yes, pathetic I know) to treat science seriously in an attempt to woo moderately religious scientists? The Discovery Institute is anti-science, it opposes evolution and behaves in a duplicitous manner.

Lieing for Jesus…and they claim moral authority!!


Papalinton - #37845

October 31st 2010

Hi Cal

Be careful here Cal.  It is widely noted that whoever wrote the Gospel of Luke is also the writer of Acts of the Apostles. There is an interesting development in textual criticism;  from Luke’s gospel, it should first be noted that nowhere does the author identify himself as the Luke who was a companion of Paul, mentioned in three Pauline epistles.  In fact, other than the title “the Gospel according to Luke”- which is admitted by all authorities to be an addition and not original to the text - Luke’s name does no show up in any Gospel.  And therefore, despite outward appearances, it is by no means certain that the author of Luke, who was neither an apostle nor a known disciple, was anywhere near in time to the events he is recording.  When we factor in the Acts, which is widely regarded as having been written by the same person as the Gospel of Luke and which addresses “Theophilus”, [c.168-188CE] there is no record of that book having been written or existing before the end of the second century.

That would make Acts 9:26-27 a story put down perhaps over 100-150 years after Paul.

Cheers


Cal - #37855

November 1st 2010

Papalinton:

Keep one argument, we’re arguing Paul, not the validity of the Bible. The only reason we know a Paul is from his epistles and Acts is a history of the Church. I don’t know where you come to the conclusion that Theophilus is from the second century.


Papalinton - #37895

November 1st 2010

Hi Cal
Yes it is Paul about which I am commenting.  The Acts was written by the same person who wrote the Gospel of Luke.  In Luke’s prologue [Luke 1:1-4]  the writer is reporting to Theophilus.  Theophilus was a pagan converted to christianity and was bishop of Antioch.  The timeline for Luke and Acts would best fit in the second half of the second century, especially since it is asserted by ancient authorities that Luke [or the writer of the Gospel of Luke] himself was from Antioch. There is no appearance in the historical record of any other ‘Theophilus’ earlier than the bishop of Antioch [fl.c. 168-c.181/188CE] 

So Luke would have written Acts some 100-130 years after the Pauline period.  And Acts is somewhat fuzzy on some detail which may be the result of later interpolation. Apparently Paul is widely-known as a rabble-rouser and he was hauled before the Roman authorities, even appealing to Caesar himself [Acts 26:32]  Paul not only purportedly spent two years in prison in Rome, but it was there where he alledgedly later experienced martyrdom in the arena ‘before a jeering crowd’ during Nero’s reign.

Strangely, despite his noteworthy life Paul appears nowhere in the historical record outside the bible.


Cal - #37912

November 1st 2010

Papalinton:

Theophilus may be a name but its also a titular designation. It means lover of God, this could be directed to any person who was in search of God, there is no proof this is for any particular individual, only speculation.

The Bible paints a big picture of Paul but the world doesn’t paint a big picture of the Bible. Do you have any idea how many “rabble rousers” came from Judea? How many were reigned in. It wasn’t particularly rare for a “Roman Citizen” of Hebrew origins to go ‘beserk’ over Caesar. In Rome’s eyes, Paul was another crazy Jew who hated Rome and needed to be removed; and particularly praising a ‘dead criminal’ as being the “Gospel” (Good News) rather than Caesar.


Jon Garvey - #37918

November 1st 2010

Papalinton - #37895

So let’s get this right: Pseudo-Luke writes after 168 to help Bishop Theophilus be sure of his faith because he only has Matthew, Mark and John (all receiving testimony by the early 2nd century and almost universally dated to between 60-90 apart from those who date them earlier). Pseudo-Luke manages, it seems to chase up eye-witnesses (or what’s stranger, to persuade a bishop that he’s done so).

Meanwhile, 30 years earlier, the heretic Marcion, writing c 140,  only gives credit to one Gospel - Luke (minus the bits he doesn’t like). So he got his copy via a time-warp from after 168, you’re saying? Damned clever these Heretics. Though in fact the time warp had given lots of copies to Marcion’s antagonists, because they describe its writing (getting it wrong because they attrribute it to Luke back in Paul’s time).

This timewarp was indeed a veritable wormhole, sending back quotes to be cited by Clement of Rome (c95), the Gnostics Basilides (before 139) and Valentinus (c140), Letter to Diognetus (c130), Justin (before 148) and the Muraturian Canon (170).

I know suggesting time travel is weird, but it has to me more plausible than that Luke himself wrote his books.


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