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Let’s Not Surrender Science to the Secular World!

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October 26, 2011 Tags: Christianity & Science - Then and Now

Today's entry was written by Mark H. Mann. 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.

Let’s Not Surrender Science to the Secular World!

I recently read with great interest and sympathy a NY Times Op Ed piece by Karl Giberson and Randall Stephens on “The Evangelical Rejection of Reason.” I say ‘interest and sympathy’ first of all because I consider both of the authors brothers in Christ whose friendship I value greatly. Karl in particular has been a teacher and mentor for me, and is the chief person to have sparked my interest in the conversation about science and theology. I say this secondly because I heartily agree with their desire to affirm that science and Christian faith need not be at odds and to reject both the fundamentalism of scientistic atheists like Richard Dawkins, on the one hand, and the fundamentalism of anti-scientific Christians like Ken Ham on the other. And I wish to do this not only because I think both types of fundamentalists are wrong, but also because, as a university educator myself, I am concerned about the number of students who are leaving the church because they feel that they must choose between Christian faith and science! I, like Giberson and Stephens, believe that they do not need to make this choice.

But, as much as I sympathize with Giberson and Stephens, I am concerned that one of their central assumptions—that there is a divide between ‘secular knowledge’ and Christian faith that must be overcome—essentially undermines their very pursuit of a middle ground where the two can be ‘integrated’. Indeed, even to assume that knowledge/science and Christian faith need to be ‘integrated’ seems to me to play right into the hands of the scientistic fundamentalists, to have completely sold them the proverbial farm. Instead, I think a much better and more distinctly Christian case can be made against Christian fundamentalist aversion for science, but before I can make the case, I need to talk more about what I perceive to be the problem with Giberson and Stephens’ call for integration.

To put it succinctly, even to talk about ‘secular knowledge’ and the ‘integration’ of science and faith is to buy into a problematic bifurcation of knowledge. The basic assumption lying behind such a distinction is that the world of knowledge can be divided into two discreet realms. On the one hand we have the world of secular knowledge, the goal of which is pure objectivity, which is governed by reason and humility, and which finds its ideals embodied in the practice of science. On the other we have the world of religion, which has a completely different set of goals and ideals. Religious knowledge is based upon faith, for the goal of religion is fidelity to God, to Jesus Christ, to the Bible as inspired by God and revelatory of God’s truth.

There are multiple problems with this bifurcation of types of knowledge. For one thing, it simply does not match the facts. There is no ‘Christianity’ that stands or ever has stood as a whole against science or reason. Whatever Christianity IS it certainly is an incredibly complex movement, and throughout its history there have been multiple ways that Christians have thought about the relationship between faith and reason, science and theology. This is a point I wish to unpack at greater length in a later blog, but for now it is sufficient to say that there has never been any single way that Christians have thought about the relationship between faith and reason, much less what faith and reason even mean. So to treat Christianity (if there even can be said to be such a ‘thing’) as a univocal totality is highly problematic.

Same goes for science. Is it truly or purely a secular pursuit? What are we to make, then, of the countless religious individuals who have been scientists and who have made significant contributions to our knowledge of the cosmos? Did they do so only by some kind of compromise between their faith and secular forms of knowledge? Again, the historical evidence would indicate quite the contrary. Take, for example, the Islamic Golden Age of scientific discovery (c. 750-1200). For Medieval Muslims there was no such thing as a secular realm, much less secular reason or knowledge. One of the most vibrant eras of human discovery, medieval Muslim scientists like Avicenna, Algaurizin, and Omar Khayyam made countless important advances in mathematics, astronomy, medicine, and even chemistry because of their faith that the cosmos is the creation of Allah and their conviction that they served their God by coming to understand better the majesty of Allah's handiwork. Indeed, one might say that it was their very rejection of a distinction between faith and reason, religion and science, that spurred on their desire to study and learn about the physical world.

Much the same could be said of scientific endeavors in the ‘Christian’ West up until the last two centuries. Many of the great scientists and nearly all of the great philosophers of medieval Europe were Catholic clerics, including a few popes! And the list of Christians who have made significant contributions to scientific discovery ever since is absolutely eye-popping: Nicholas Copernicus, Isaac Newton, Blaise Pascal, Rene Descartes, Gottfried Leibniz, Robert Boyle, Joseph Priestly, Michael Faraday, Gregor Mendel, Louis Pasteur, Lord Kevlin, Max Planck…to name just a few.

I can, I believe, say with a great sense of confidence that few, if any, of these great Christian scientists understood themselves to be integrating their faith with secular knowledge. In fact, even to talk about secular knowledge or a secular realm is to be somewhat anachronistic, for the very notion of the secular as a kind of non-religious, and therefore supposedly neutral, public sphere is a rather recent construction. Although with roots in both ancient and enlightenment philosophy and practically grounded in the rise of the modern nation state (in the efforts of monarchs to wrest power from religious authorities and later as democratic nations sought to establish religious toleration), the term itself and a full-blown philosophy of secularism did not appear until the mid-19th century.

Of course, secularism is now the name of the game in most nations outside of the Muslim world, even in countries that do still maintain some kind of official ties between state and religion, such as Britain or Norway. But even in such countries there is a considerable functional split between church and state, with faith now understood to be a matter of private, individual preference and practice, and such ‘objective’ and ‘neutral’ endeavors as science viewed as features of the public, secular sphere. Aside from the fact that neither science nor any other kind of so-called ‘secular’ thinking has proven to be all that neutral or objective (see, for instance, Stephen L. Carter’s The Culture of Disbelief: How American Law and Politics Trivialize Religious Devotion or just about anything written by Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn, Jerome Ravitz, Paul Feyerabend, and Bruno Latour, among many others), it is easy to see why someone like Giberson or Stephens might presume the distinction between faith (religious) and science (secular): because that is what their audience generally assumes.

But this is exactly the division that we as Christians need to reject as we talk about the relationship between science and faith, and especially when it comes to providing a critique of Christian fundamentalism. Science belongs, I wish to argue, just as much to the church of Christ as it does to some so-called secular realm of knowledge. To treat the conversation otherwise is to give in to both the secular fundamentalists, who wish to see Christians surrender their faith in God for faith in science as the fount of all truth, and the Christian fundamentalists, who fear that any compromise with the secular ultimately amounts to selling out their fidelity to God.

A far more appropriate way to criticize the anti-intellectual and anti-scientific positions of Christian fundamentalists is to demonstrate how deeply anti-Christian and anti-biblical these positions truly are. In fact, I wish to argue that these tendencies actually mark the resurgence of the ancient heresy Gnosticism, which was roundly rejected by the Christian church in the first and second centuries. Defining Gnosticism and demonstrating the extent to which Christian fundamentalists are guilty of this heresy will be the central thrust of my next blog.

"I lay it down that all knowledge forms one whole, because its subject-matter is one; for the universe in its length and breadth is so intimately knit together, that we cannot separate off portion from portion, and operation from operation, except by a mental abstraction; and then again, as to its Creator, though He of course in His own Being is infinitely separate from it, and Theology has its departments towards which human knowledge has no relations, yet He has so implicated Himself with it, and taken it into His very bosom, by His presence in it, His providence over it, His impressions upon it, and His influences through it, that we cannot truly or fully contemplate it without in some main aspects contemplating Him." (John Henry Newman, (1858), "The Idea of a University", p. 50-51)


Mark H. Mann is the director of the Wesleyan Center, Point Loma Press, and Honors Program at Point Loma Nazarene University. Mark received his bachelor's degree from Eastern Nazarene College and went on to earn both an M.Div. and a Ph.D. in Religious and Theological Studies (2004) from Boston University. Mann previously served at Colgate University where he was both chaplain and professor. Mann has previous experience in editing, student development and staff ministry at the local church level.

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KevinR - #65742

October 26th 2011

” the anti-intellectual and anti-scientific positions of Christian fundamentalists is to demonstrate how deeply anti-Christian and anti-biblical these positions truly are.”

AS far as I can see in this article, the fingers are pointing right back at the author. There is nothing more anti-biblical than the theory of evolution which denies the glory of God with it’s death, pain and suffering before the sin of Adam. Where is the God which declare all things created as “very good”? The God of LIFE, who is the exact antithesis of evolutionary DEATH?

The article points out the path that will be followed by all who adhere to the lie of evolution - dogmatically campaigning for the abolition of everything and everyone who takes a stand for unvarnished biblical truth. Beware of where you are heading, sir.


Mirth - #65743

October 26th 2011

Albert Mohler has an interesting blog article, “Total Capitulation: The Evangelical Surrender of Truth,” responding to Karl Giberson and Randall Stephens on “The Evangelical Rejection of Reason.” I think Mohler is spot on.

http://www.albertmohler.com/2011/10/25/total-capitulation-the-evangelical-surrender-of-truth/


Alan - #65748

October 26th 2011

It is op-eds like Giberson’s that makes me generally nervous about Biologos.  I do find much that is helpful on the website, but when I read the op-ed, it seems that the head of the organization not only wants us to accept evolution, but also the global climate change scare and the legitimacy of homosexuality and gay marriage.  I accept evolution because of the evidence.  But why mix these other issues into the pot?  Mr. Giberson, respectfully, I would suggest that you’re shooting yourself in the foot if you really want conservative evangelicals (like myself) to consider the case for evolution; as soon as they read your takes on global warming, but ESPECIALLY homosexuality/gay marriage, they will just disregard you as a politically left-leaning Christian.


CF - #65754

October 26th 2011

Alan,


I hear what you’re saying, and I thought some of the same things. But really that’s guilt by association, and we should judge each position on its own merit.

I’d also note that this editorial appeared in the NYT, not here at Biologos, so I wouldn’t take it as representing Biologos’s views. (Besides, they’re always qualifying their posts here—say on the historicity of Adam—as not representing Biologos’s official views.)

Nonetheless, since Biologos is interested in friction points between science and religion, I’d say they could profitably discuss such issues beyond creation/evolution.


On climate change, I tend to think that those who are suspicious of the
scientific consensus are suspicious more for political reasons than
religious/biblical reasons, so I wouldn’t expect that to show up on this
website as a central issue for discussion.



On homosexuality, however, it seems that there is room for
scientific-religious conflict that stretches beyond politics if, say, a
genetic basis for homosexuality were discovered, rather than just
inferred and assumed. Then many Christians would (continue to) oppose
normalizing homosexuality on religious/biblical grounds (the arguments
about committed gay relationships being exempt from Paul’s condemnation
and actually being a godly relationship seem like a case of special pleading
to me), while scientists might generally favor accepting it based as a
normal genetic variation. That science-religion conflict might profitably be
addressed by Biologos from various points of view, as they do with other
issues.

What do you think?


Alan - #65755

October 26th 2011

Great, I just spent 30 minutes typing 5499 characters, then I was told that the max was 5000 characters, I clicked “back”, and it was all gone.  Arrgh!

I’m not going to repeat it all now.  So briefly, I think that if Biologos’ goal is to convince conservative Christians of the case for the compatibility of evolution and the truth of Scripture, it ought not introduce any stumbling blocks, such as featuring theologians/pastors (for example, Greg Boyd - open theist; Brian McClaren - emergent church; Giberson - apparently not troubled by homosexuality/gay marriage) who are already regarded with some reservations by even thoughtful conservative evangelicals.  In my opinion, Biologos is undermining its own effectiveness in reaching conservatives, by featuring such folks.  Sure, Biologos can put on as many disclaimers as it wants, but because of human nature, conservative Christians are NOT going to be endeared to the organization’s messag about evolution if it finds out how many theologians associated with he organization are moderate/liberal on other hot topics.  It’s just human nature that people will consider the case for a controversial idea, but mainly only when they know that there are other people out there who they respect, who 1) also hold this controversial view, BUT - and this is important - 2) who in most other important ways think like them.  I fear that if Biologos continues to be in denial of this fact of human nature, they won’t be nearly as effective as they could be.  Biologos ought to stop giving forum to folks like McClaren, Boyd and Giberson (nothing personal against them of course), and start featuring only the voices of conservative Christians who hold to evolution.  More Tim Kellers, Alister McGraths, Gordon Glovers, etc.  Bribe JI Packer to start writing some stuff too!  : D

As far as global warming - I agree that objections are mostly political in nature, and they are made by people who are hardly evangelical (Penn Jillette, John Stossel, Ian Plimer and Michael Crichton come to mind).  There’s no intersect with Scripture in my view, so no reason to open up that can of worms on Biologos, which again would distract from the mission of making the case for evolution to conservative Christians.  Do one thing, and do it well and wisely!

Finally, while as you can tell, I don’t think the issue of the gay gene ought to be on this website, I will just say that I would not be surprised to find out that there was a genetic presdipostion to homosexuality.  Nonetheless, that mere fact can never be the basis to argue for the morality of homosexual behavior.  It’s a non sequitur.  So I think that a conservative Christian CAN accept some form of genetic component to homosexuality, while at the same time adhering and promoting biblical morality, which prohibits homosexuality (and ergo gay marriage).


Nate123 - #65756

October 26th 2011

I’m personally on the progressive side of the Evangelical spectrum; however, I understand your concerns about evolution acceptance being tangled with other issues.  I do think you should remember that Giberson is no longer at Biologos.

“Biologos ought to stop giving forum to folks like McClaren, Boyd and
Giberson (nothing personal against them of course), and start featuring
only the voices of conservative Christians who hold to evolution.  More
Tim Kellers, Alister McGraths, Gordon Glovers, etc.”

On this I disagree with you.  Boyd and McLaren are both evangelical Christians, and they should be part of the dialogue along with more conservative voices.  It seems rather unfair to exclude certain Christian opinions (that relate to the focus of this site), because you (or conservative evangelicals) disagree with them on issues not related to the focus of Biologos.


Alan - #65757

October 26th 2011

It may be unfair.  That’s not my concern.  Biologos has the right and freedom to air any views they choose to, and the freedom NOT to air other views.  There is nothing unethical or unbecoming about that. 

My point, again, is that the decision to “air” certain theologians and pastors on their site is counterproductive if Biologos desires to make the case for evolution to conservative evangelicals. 

My guess is that most people (like yourself) on the “progessive side of the evangelical spectrum” already accept evolution anyway (correct me if I’m wrong).  So if Biologos endears itself to progressives, but alienates conservatives, they end up preaching only to the choir, and making less progress with conservatives than they could. 

Do you see where I’m coming from?


Darrel Falk - #65761

October 26th 2011

I’d like to make a comment about Alan’s very interesting point.  I am aware that others feel the same way.


We posted a Brian McLaren video on Monday.  He made an extremely articulate point about the proverbial slippery slope.  I’ve never heard it expressed better.  Why would we not post a message that we all need to hear?  The fact that Brian writes other things that I don’t agree with is beside the point.  When he says something that will make me wiser it behooves me to listen.

We have several Greg Boyd videos.  His personal testimony is very, very edifying.  Why should we deprive readers of the opportunity to grow in Christ, (Gregg’s testimony provides this, you know!) because there are elements of his theology with which we might disagree?  .   

Karl Giberson is a personal friend and someone who used to work for BioLogos.  Indeed, Karl was instrumental in its formation.  http://biologos.org/blog/karl-giberson-moves-on-to-create-more-time-for-writing .  Just because he is not with BioLogos any longer, doesn’t mean that we should not read his wonderful summary of the life of John Polkinghorne or ask him to do a guest blog on occasion.

These people all have important things to say to us, and it behooves us to listen.  Why would we close our minds just because there are certain other things that they say with which we may or may not agree?   Think back to what Jesus had to say about this sort of thing. 
 
I am a biologist.  I learned almost all of my biology from people who have a totally different world view than me.  Should I have paid no attention to what they had to tell me about biology, because I didn’t agree with aspects of their belief system?

BioLogos does not advocate open theism.  BioLogos is deeply committed to orthodox Christian theology.  BioLogos has posted a wonderful article on the sanctity of marriage.  http://biologos.org/blog/genesis-two-rewrites-part-ii.  

Still, we evangelicals must not live in a closed world where we protect ourselves from the ideas of others unless their beliefs are pre-packaged in a manner that matches our own specifications. 



Alan - #65763

October 26th 2011

I appreciate what you’re saying, and don’t disagree completely.  I too enjoyed the McClaren videos, honestly.  And I agree with you that in an ideal world, we should be able to listen to and benefit from truth, no matter what the source.

But this is NOT an ideal world.  I will restate what I said above:  it is human nature (particulary of those who are already “conservative” by personality) that people will consider the case for a controversial idea, but mainly only when they know that there are other people out there who they respect, who 1) also hold this controversial view, BUT ALSO - and this is important - 2) in most other important ways think like them.  I fear that if Biologos continues to be in denial of this fact of human nature, they won’t be nearly as effective as they could be.

This is true of me as well!  When I first began considering the case for evolution, I read a book by Jerry Coyne (not a Christian) making the case for evolution.  By God’s grace, I tend to be a “maverick” conservative evangelical : D, so I took a step of faith to read that book.  But I still needed to know that there were people out there who were conservatives like me who also accepted evolution; so I began studying, and found out to my relief that people as conservative as BB Warfield, AH Strong, Tim Keller and JI Packer accepted evolution.  My journey would NOT have been helped by hearing John Shelby Spong’s or Marcus Borg’s opinions.  Now, obviously you haven’t posted anything by them, to my knowledge.  But please understand that in the eyes of many conservatives (rightly or wrongly), Greg Boyd and Brian McLaren are not too far removed from Spong and Borg on the spectrum.  Who’s next - Rob Bell?  I theoretically agree with you that it’s possible for people to benefit from the true things that these men speak, no question about that.  However, the reality is going to be that most conservatives won’t even stop to hear what they’re saying to begin with, because of the other theological baggage they bring with them.  Furthermore, you give ammunition to folks like Ken Ham (of whom I’m no fan). 

I appreciate that you specifically stated above that Biologos does not advocate things such as open theism.  That’s refreshing.  As a friend, not as an enemy, I still suggest that as long as your goal is to win over conservative evangelicals to the case for evolution, Biologos should be cautious about giving a forum to theologians/pastors who are suspect in the eyes of conservatives.  It will only cause them to be more suspicious about evolution than they already are. 

Anyways, just one man’s opinion. 


Darrel Falk - #65765

October 26th 2011

One more point, Allan.  Again, in making it I appreciate where you are coming from and the sincere spirit you convey.


Our primary goal at BioLogos not to convert conservative Christians to the BioLogos point of view.  More than anything, our task is to work towards depolarizing the discussion. That, as I see it, supersedes whether people actually come to take on the BioLogos point of view.  I am more concerned that we exhibit Christian integrity in how we dialog with each other.

Since that is our primary concern in our interaction with Christians who are conservative on the science/faith issue, I think we need to put much emphasis on being a good example as to how this is done.  Closing the door of access to Brian McLaren’s good points, for example, would be counter-productive to our primary mission.  If we lose some conservative Christians in the process, then we’ll sadly need to let them go.  Perhaps they’ll come back when they find out that  we will continue to respectfully encourage each person to work through the science/faith issues at their own pace, reaching their own conclusions even when they are different than our own. 

 In the meantime we will respectfully continue to lay out our own views as clearly as we can.

Alan - #65766

October 26th 2011

Fair enough.  Because I’m coming from a specific framework as a conservative reformed evangelical who would like to more confidently promote Biologos to other conservative reformed evangelicals, I still think that my suggestion is the better part of wisdom, but then again, that’s probably because my agenda is not exactly the same as Biologos’ agenda.  Thanks for your comments, though, Dr. Falk! 


beaglelady - #65770

October 26th 2011

Where did Pete Enns go? We haven’t heard from him in a while.


Darrel Falk - #65773

October 26th 2011

I know!  Hopefully soon.


Daniel Mann - #65745

October 26th 2011

KevinR,

I agree. Although some fundamentalists might be anti-science, most aren’t. we just are anti-macro-evolution. To label us as anti-science is to demean and marginalize us.

Perhaps instead the writer is objecting to our guiding presuppositions which are Biblical as they must be (2 Cor. 10:4-5). We have been troubled to see many Christians compromising their faith away by placing their prime emphasis on the modern scientific consensus supporting macro-evolution.

While the writer (Mann) is understandably concerned by Christians rejecting their faith entirely because of evolution, I’m more concerned about the untenable middle ground of luke-warmness resulting from the incorporation of Darwin into our Christian world view.


PNG - #65794

October 27th 2011

Nobody called for the abolition of anything or anyone.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #65746

October 26th 2011

Mark Mann makes a good point, but the problem is not that there is a difference between theology and science, between the spirit and the physical.

The problem is Western dualism which makes those differences into opposition.  This is not the case in the Bible.  The world is not the enemy of faith, but the world as an end in itself is the enemy of faith.  “God so loved the world . . . .”

Jesus does not seek to destroy sinners or the world, but to reconcile them to God the Father.  Under dualism, under either or mentality this is not possible.  We need to change our thinking both in theology and science to reflect the reconciling love of God, which is best found on the scientific side in ecology based on mutuality.  


sy - #65768

October 26th 2011

Some interesting discussion here about the original Giberson piece in the NYT, but I would like to get back (following Roger’s example) to the actual article written here by Mark Mann. The idea that science, including the science of evolution is not distinct from Christian theology is a very powerful one. I believe that what Polkinghorne and others have done with physics (the fine tuning of the physical constants) we can also do with biology. Not to use science to prove God’s existence (heaven forbid!) but to show that natural law fits smoothly with Christianity in its deepest sense. Thus, we should look at evolution as a divinely inspired law of nature,  one that fits in well with God’s injunction that we see all of Creation as being good.

Even as an atheist, I used to tell my students that if they can study the detailed process of protein synthesis by coded messages and the workings of the ribosome, and not feel a sense of awe, then they are missing something, and should study it harder. At the time, I didnt know what the object of that awe should be, but now I do. I fully agree with Mann, that Christians should use science as a tool for defending the faith, and evolution is an argument FOR the creative majesty of God.


Alan - #65771

October 26th 2011

Sorry, I confess I derailed the conversation a little bit.  : ( 

I agree with your comments!  Well said!


sy - #65769

October 26th 2011

To extend that comment just bit, I can say that I became a Christian not despite my understanding and love of science, but because of it.


PNG - #65778

October 27th 2011

I have to object to this post on a couple of grounds. First, declaring that all knowledge is one doesn’t change the fact that theology is essentially deductive, starting from premises that are based on the Bible, the creeds and for some people, other authoritative statements from whatever they consider to be the “magisterium” of their branch of the church. Science, while it involves both deduction and induction, or empiricism, is fundamentally based on observation and experiment. In that sense it offers replication, in principle, by anyone. These are two different ways of knowing and they can seem to come into conflict and stay in conflict for long periods of time. To deny that sounds like mere rhetoric to me.


My other objection, a much more serious one, is that Mann tells us in the last paragraph that we should regard fundamentalists as heretics (gnostics). It doesn’t do any good for the participants in this debate to start calling each other heretics. Blood has been shed over that word, and we need to refrain from using it. None of the participants in the debate that Biologos is fostering have rejected the gospel or renounced Christ and that, after all, is what “evangelical” means. It is probably inevitable that there will be accusations of heresy from some of the more hot-blooded fundamentalists, but I would really like to see Biologos refrain from those kind of accusations. It isn’t going to induce anyone to look more carefully at the evidence and it will just confirm the low expectations that many unbelievers have for the behavior of Christians toward each other.

Alan - #65781

October 27th 2011

Great point!  I had allowed myself to get so distracted by the NYT piece that I didn’t even notice that last paragraph in the piece at hand. 


Darrel Falk - #65783

October 27th 2011

Dear PNG,


I think it is important not to pre-judge the next blog before it has come out. Gnosticism was a real phenomenon in the history of the church, and there may be a natural tendency for those whose lives are deeply steeped in the heavenly realm to thoroughly and utterly reject the earthly realm.   Is fundamentalism more prone to that tendency?  Are there elements within fundamentalism that have already moved in that direction?

In our desire for Christian unity, we must also be willing to self-reflect.  Indeed we must be willing to gently and lovingly admonish one another.  

Let’s look at it from the other side.  I think that elements of the early chapters of Genesis are steeped in figurative language and ought not to be taken literally.  History shows that people who think that way have often moved into a branch of Christianity called liberalism.  Indeed far too many moved onto something that had little resemblance to orthodox Christianity.  It is right for people to point this out, too. We at BioLogos need to be held accountable. The historical tendency is real.  We even need to be admonished on occasion.

One thing we don’t need is—for the sake of unity—a bland Christianity which refuses to critically analyze itself.   Always done with respect, always done in love, but it is not biblical Christianity if there is never any admonishment.  

Alan - #65788

October 27th 2011

Wow.  Dr. Falk, I so appreciate your honesty in this paragraph…

“Let’s look at it from the other side.  I think that elements of the early chapters of Genesis are steeped in figurative language and ought not to be taken literally.  History shows that people who think that way have often moved into a branch of Christianity called liberalism.  Indeed far too many moved onto something that had little resemblance to orthodox Christianity.  It is right for people to point this out, too. We at BioLogos need to be held accountable. The historical tendency is real.  We even need to be admonished on occasion.”

The fear of sliding into liberalism has been a fear of mine (a fear that by God’s grace I have faced, but a fear nonetheless) for a long time.  I was raised in KJV only, pre-trib rapture dispensationalist Baptist circles.  They preached the gospel, and loved the Bible, and many of them are great and Godly people, things for which I thank God.  But as I grew up, I had…questions.  I slowly over the years put down the baggage of KJV onlyism, YEC-ism, pre-trib rapturism, separationistic legalism, and most recently Creationism of any variety.  At each step, I always worried that I was somehow being seduced by Satan into liberalism, which I believed (and still do, with Machen) did not even deserve to be called Christianity.  What’s interesting, however, is that through all those seismic changes, God has always been faithful to me, and my faith is now stronger.  What is striking is that by jettisoning all the baggage above, the gospel has never been affected, and the truth of God’s Word has never changed (I like to think that my understanding of it has just improved).

Thanks Dr. Falk for your very transparent and honest words!  I praise God for that!


penman - #65793

October 27th 2011

You aren’t the only one to have undertaken this pilgrimage, Alan. I still regard myself as within the Reformed camp - still believe in the plenary verbal inspiration of scripture, & a historic Adam - but some years ago I embraced a broadly evolutionary view of how our sovereign God worked to fashion anatomically modern humanity. And yes, B.B.Warfield is a hero of mine too, in his careful critical openness to evolutionary understandings. (A.A.Hodge, too!)

Gordon Glover’s “Beyond the Firmament” was a book I found very helpful.

I could elaborate but won’t unless you’re particularly interested in my intellectual peregrinations…



Alan - #65799

October 27th 2011

I’d love to hear more about your journey.  Iron sharpens iron!  If you want to send me a private message, please do.  And yes, I love Glover’s book!  I hope he’ll write another.


penman - #65828

October 28th 2011

I’ve sent a “private message”, but in case it doesn’t work, just send me a message at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Regards
Penman


PNG - #65796

October 27th 2011

I didn’t call for any end to the debate or of critical analysis. That will go on regardless of what I think or contribute. I just think we ought to leave accusations of heresy out of it.

Someone referenced a piece by Albert Mohler in which he accused Giberson and Stephens (and Biologos by inference?) of “total capitulation,” which sounds pretty much like “heresy” to me. My point is just that these kind of discussions have a tendency to escalate, and using inflammatory words like “heresy” just fans the flames. I sent a reciprocal e-mail to Dr. Mohler suggesting that he refrain from hyperbole as well.

Ronnie - #65780

October 27th 2011

“Indeed, even to assume that knowledge/science and Christian faith need to be ‘integrated’ seems to me to play right into the hands of the scientistic fundamentalists, to have completely sold them the proverbial farm.”

This is a very good point. Scientific knowledge is believed by many to be synonymous with evolution, whose proponents like to “preach” as being one in the same. 

Ken Ham on the other hand, far from being anti-scientific, believes scientific evidence supports the Genesis account of creation.

The bifurcation here is how one interprets scientific evidence.

Argon - #65812

October 27th 2011

“The bifurcation here is how one interprets scientific evidence.”

I think it goes a little bit deeper than that. I don’t believe there is any evidence that will dissuade Ham from his YEC views. However, I’d go along with the proposition that Ham isn’t anti-science in his own mind. Still, it must be said that his ‘scientific understanding’ is terrible which leads him pretty far from reasonable conclusions.

Ronnie - #65827

October 28th 2011

The same can be said of Dawkins, or Biologos, that there isn’t any evidence that will dissuade them from their evolutionary views, and their scientific understanding could be called ‘terrible’ as well. Is it just because Ham rejects the evolutionary worldview that you call his understanding terrible?


beaglelady - #65835

October 28th 2011

Not true. Evidence against evolution, e.g. rabbits in the Cambrian, would cause scientists to rethink evolution.  So far, multiple lines of evidence point to evolution as the best explanation for what we see.


Ronnie - #65836

October 28th 2011

I seriously doubt that. There would just be another evolutionary explanation for it. Just like the cambrian explosion or punctuated equilibrium used to explain the abrupt appearance of fossil animals and plants, evolutionists will not give up their devotion to evolution.


Terrance - #65837

October 28th 2011

What exactly do you think the Cambrian ‘explosion’ and punctuated equilibrium are? I am almost positive that you would not be able to give an accurate description of either.


Ronnie - #65839

October 28th 2011

Darwin said:

“The number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed on the earth, (must) be truly enormous…”

Since there is no enormity of transitional fossils, and the ones that are touted as transitional are questionable at best, then the cambrian explosion and punctuated equilibrium are used to explain the fossil record to support evolutionary assumptions.


John - #65845

October 28th 2011

“Since there is no enormity of transitional fossils, and the ones that are touted as transitional are questionable at best…”

Really, Ronnie? How many fossils have YOU examined?

Have you spent more time examining fossils, or cutting and pasting quote mines?

beaglelady - #65855

October 28th 2011

Good questions, John.  To Ronnie: what is your natural history museum?


Ronnie - #65861

October 29th 2011

I live in the Houston area, so its the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Do you think, like Terrance, that if I’d just go there I would lose my creationist ways and be converted?

It is a great museum, we’ve taken our kids there several times, and of course they like the dinosaurs the best. It is a great opportunity for my wife and I, since of course the museum follows the evolutionary party line, to teach our kids a proper understanding of what the fossils mean and why the museum explains them the way they do.


John - #65874

October 29th 2011

Ronnie,


My question remains. How many fossils have YOU examined?

Isn’t pretending to have witnessed something when you are only regurgitating hearsay a clear violation of the Ninth Commandment?

Ronnie - #65875

October 29th 2011

John

In all my posts I state my beliefs. I have never regurgitated anything I know to be false. If my beliefs are false, then I’ll have to deal with that. You would have to prove the hearsay before claiming I violated the Ninth Commandment.

I am not a scientist, nor do I play one on TV. I study this topic (creation/evolution) as a lay person, when I have the free time to do so. I can read and understand what I read and make an informed opinion about this issue based on what I study, which is what countless others who don’t work in a scientific field have to do. So to answer your (and Terrances) question, no, I have not examined fossils in any detail other than at school or in a museum setting. If that renders me incapable of having an opinion, then so be it.

By the way John, you believe the Ninth Commandment, do you believe the Fourth?


John - #65903

October 29th 2011

“In all my posts I state my beliefs. I have never regurgitated anything I know to be false.”

You regurgitate things you can’t be bothered to evaluate against the evidence, while claiming that what you are regurgitating has a foundation in the evidence.

“If my beliefs are false, then I’ll have to deal with that. You would have to prove the hearsay before claiming I violated the Ninth Commandment.”

Prove it? You admitted it! 

You wrote, “...no, I have not examined fossils in any detail other than at school or in a museum setting.”

“I am not a scientist, nor do I play one on TV. I study this topic (creation/evolution) as a lay person,…”

Ronnie, you don’t “study this topic” because you ignore the evidence and simply argue from hearsay. 

There’s nothing preventing a layperson from examining the evidence, no closed clubs, no secret handshakes. As you’ve stated yourself, you are completely resistant to learning anything; since learning is the product of studying, you aren’t studying. Then you project your own ignorance onto others in direct violation of the Ninth Commandment.

“when I have the free time to do so. I can read and understand what I read and make an informed opinion about this issue based on what I study, which is what countless others who don’t work in a scientific field have to do.”

This is absolutely false, Ronnie, as no one needs to “work in a scientific field” to examine the evidence. My hypothesis is that your faith in your position is too weak for you to do so.

“So to answer your (and Terrances) question, no, I have not examined fossils in any detail other than at school or in a museum setting.”

Therefore, any global claim you make about the fossil evidence can be nothing but hearsay. Therefore, when you claim that two groups are examining the same body of evidence, you are clearly bearing false witness in direct violation of the Ninth Commandment.

Do you not see that you are falsely portraying what others SAY as what you KNOW?

“If that renders me incapable of having an opinion, then so be it.”

You are falsely putting words in my mouth, Ronnie, and you know it. You are making explicit claims about the evidence, when in reality your opinion is based on hearsay.

“By the way John, you believe the Ninth Commandment, do you believe the Fourth?”

It’s interesting that you substitute verbs there, Ronnie. One OBEYS commandments. 
 
To beaglelady:
“I’m glad that you can admit that “it’s all in how one interprets the same data”.”

Hilarious, Ronnie! Beaglelady was being facetious! Her point was that you aren’t interpreting any data at all, much less the same data. For example, does the term “nested hierarchy” refer to an interpretation of the sequence data that you have to ignore because your faith is weak, or does it refer to a mathematical description of the sequence data that you are afraid to study?

Ronnie - #65905

October 30th 2011

Thanks, John, I expected nothing less from you.

MY question remains, Do YOU believe the Fourth Commandment?

One has to believe in order to obey.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #65936

November 1st 2011

Ronnie,

Christians believe in God and obey God’s Word, rather than believe in the Ten Commandments.

Are you aware ths there are two versions of the Fourth Commandment in the Bible?  See Deu 5:12-15.  Which one is right in your opinion?

Finally Jesus denied the accuracy of Gen 2:2-3 when He was accused of breaking the Fourth Commandment? See John 5:16-18. Was He wrong?   


Ronnie - #65938

November 1st 2011

Roger

As Christians we must believe that the Ten Commandments are true in order to obey them.

**********

There are not two ‘versions’ of the Fourth Commandment, the one in Exodus simply makes the correlation between the week of creation and the week we observe today.

**********

Jesus was saying to the Jews that He is the Lord of the Sabbath, claiming to be God and not subject to the commandment to observe the Sabbath.

Titus 1:2 says God cannot lie, so if Jesus denied the accuracy of Genesis 2:2-3, then He is denying himself, contradicting His Word, which is something He cannot do. Genesis 2:2-3 says God rested from all His work which He created and made. He has always upheld His creation and if He stopped this upholding, we would cease to exist.

So Roger, since John won’t answer me, I’ll ask you the same question, do you believe the Fourth Commandment (as stated in Exodus) is true?


Roger A. Sawtelle - #65961

November 2nd 2011

Ronnie,

I stand with Jesus and His understanding of this commandment.  That means I agree with the version of the 4th Commandment found in  Deuteronomy.  

Jesus never said He did not have obey God’s Law and He did contradict the plain and clear meaning of Gen 2:2-3.

Do you refrain from working on the seventh day?


Ronnie - #65981

November 3rd 2011

Roger

Do you seriously think that Jesus contradicted Gen 2:2-3? John 1:1 calls Jesus the Word, who was with God in the beginning, who was God, and through who all things were made. He was there, so if He were contradicting Gen 2:2-3, He would be contradicting something he himself did! The ‘work’ He rested from was the work of creating all things, as the 4th Commandment tells us to work for 6 days and rest on the 7th. When we rest from our labors, even if we lie in bed all day, our bodies are still working to maintain our lives. Hebrews 1:3 says Jesus “sustains all things by his powerful word”, just as he has been doing since creation and thankfully hasn’t rested from!

Also, I wish I could say that I obey all the commandments, but I would be lying, but I do believe all the commandments are true.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #65982

November 3rd 2011

Ronnie,

Christians by and large do not celebrate the Sabbath on the 7th day or Saturday. They celebrate it on the first day, Sunday, because it was on that day that Jesus arose from the dead. 

If God’s word is true now and forever then Christians would be breaking God’s word by not honoring the Sabbath and breaking many of the laws found in the Torah.

Jesus taught us that we are not bound by the 4th Commandment, but by His commandment to love God, and others, which is the reason He worked on the Sabbath.

Paul told us that the letter of the Jewish Torah kills, but the Spirit gives life.  You are trying to reduce Christianity to literal legalism undoing all the teachings of Jesus and Paul.


beaglelady - #65881

October 29th 2011

A Mormon could do something similar:  Visit an exhibition of Native Americans and their origins, and then tell their kids that Native Americans descended from Jews who sailed here from Israel. The  DNA says it ain’t so,  and so does virtually everything else, but the Book of Mormon begs to differ. You see, it’s all in how one interprets the same data.


Ronnie - #65884

October 29th 2011

I’m glad that you can admit that “it’s all in how one interprets the same data”.

I’m not Mormon but I do teach my kids the biblical basis for what they see in the museum, even when evolutionary theory says it ain’t so.


beaglelady - #65909

October 30th 2011

Do you agree that DNA evidence could point to you as a rapist, or a father of children other the ones you acknowledge, since it’s all about how the same data are interpreted?


Ronnie - #65913

October 30th 2011

Beaglelady

That is uncalled for.


beaglelady - #65915

October 30th 2011

I didn’t say you would do any such thing—what an idea!  But couldn’t a scientist look at DNA evidence and point to you as the father even if you are not the father?


John - #65918

October 31st 2011

beaglelady,


Feigned outrage is all Ronnie’s got. 

One can rephrase the point by asking whether Ronnie would find DNA evidence valid in an exculpatory way, but we both know that Ronnie will just dodge.

Ronnie - #65922

October 31st 2011

John

Speaking of dodging…Fourth Commandment, true or false?


Ronnie - #65920

October 31st 2011

Sorry Beaglelady, but we were talking about fossils, moreso how evolutionists and creationists both use fossils to make their respective cases (interpreting the evidence).

I apologize for snapping at you, but I think you could have used a better choice of words.


beaglelady - #65923

October 31st 2011

We are talking about interpreting evidence. DNA evidence is used in our courts to convict accused rapists, establish paternity, etc.  We all want justice to prevail, right?  But any DNA could be interpreted as your DNA, correct? 


Ronnie - #65928

October 31st 2011

Since I am a known, living source of DNA, then any DNA could be tested against mine to verify whether it is mine or not, no interpretation required.


beaglelady - #65930

October 31st 2011

But someone would still have to interpret whether or not it was yours.  Same data…


John - #65931

October 31st 2011

Ronnie:
“Sorry Beaglelady, but we were talking about fossils, moreso how evolutionists and creationists both use fossils to make their respective cases (interpreting the evidence).”

Sorry Ronnie, but the DNA is a far bigger portion of the “same evidence” that you claim that your side is simply interpreting differently. The fact is that your side is ignoring the vast majority of the evidence and lying about it (pretending that it represents vague similarity instead of nested hierarchies) when not ignoring it.

“I apologize for snapping at you, but I think you could have used a better choice of words.”

But you’ve still failed to engage the content. Can’t you see that the fact that you refuse to examine even a kilobase of the terabases of sequence evidence makes a mockery of any claim that this is a matter of interpreting the same evidence differently?

Ronnie - #65932

November 1st 2011

You still haven’t given me an answer John


Terrance - #65849

October 28th 2011

So not only do you not understand the scientific concepts you mention, but you display a remarkable inability to comprehend basic sentences. Darwin was not saying that we should expect to find an “enormity of transitional fossils.” In fact, he was saying the exact opposite - that although such creatures would have existed, we should not expect to find their fossilized remains due to “the extreme
imperfection of the geological record.”

*It’s somewhat tangential to this discussion, but in paraphrasing Darwin (I presume you simply copied and pasted the quote from elsewhere), your substituting in the word ‘enormity’ results in a misuse of that word.


Terrance - #65851

October 28th 2011

Furthermore, when you claim that transitional fossils are lacking today you must know that you are repeating a falsehood. If you simply went to a museum or picked up some articles on palaeontology that were written by scientists who were knowledgeable on the subject, you would be presented with a plethora of them. We have transitional fossils documenting just about every major transition that you could imagine, and there is no excuse for not knowing about them, nor is there any research indicating that they are “questionable.” As John asked, how many have you examined for yourself? How many articles have you read? How much have you read by scientists that have examined the fossils and do publish research?


Ronnie - #65859

October 29th 2011

We could ride this merry-go-round all day long.

You say there are a ‘plethora’ of transitional fossils because you believe the evolutionary explanation of the fossil record which demands this. You can point me to literature which bolsters your position. Would it change my mind? No.

I say there are no transitional fossils, because I believe all forms of life were created fully formed, and that the Genesis flood produced a vast majority of the fossil record. I could point you to literature which bolsters my position. Would it change your mind? No.

The fact here is the major disagreement between evolutionists and creationists, and even between evolutionists themselves, whether transitional fossils exist and what the fossil record is actually telling us. Your sweeping statements about the completeness of transitional fossils and that there is no research that questions the evolutionary assumptions about these is simply not true.


John - #65901

October 29th 2011

“We could ride this merry-go-round all day long.”

Indeed we could. Your lack of faith compels you to tell blatant falsehoods about the evidence and what other people believe.

“You say there are a ‘plethora’ of transitional fossils because you believe the evolutionary explanation of the fossil record which demands this.”

Ronnie, this is simply a lie. There are are a plethora of transitional fossils simply because there are a plethora of transitional fossils. Your arrogance in attributing beliefs to people based on nothing but your own wishful thinking is staggering. 

Admitting this and examining the evidence for yourself would expose the utter dishonesty of your claim, “The bifurcation here is how one interprets scientific evidence.” You’ve admitted that you ignore the evidence in favor of hearsay.

“You can point me to literature which bolsters your position. Would it change my mind? No.”

This is another bit of trite dishonesty. It’s not about “literature,” Ronnie, it’s about evidence. Your side produces nothing but rhetoric, while my side produces new evidence every day. Therefore, you clearly need to lie to pretend that my side only produces rhetoric too. If your beliefs were real and strong, you would have no such need.

“I say there are no transitional fossils, because I believe all forms of life were created fully formed, and that the Genesis flood produced a vast majority of the fossil record. I could point you to literature which bolsters my position.”

But you can’t point us to EVIDENCE, because you haven’t examined the evidence. Therefore your equivalency is totally, utterly false.

”…Your sweeping statements about the completeness of transitional fossils…”

You are furiously fudging, Ronnie. The statement that you are flailing to challenge is that there is a plethora of transitional fossils, not that there is a complete set. 

Have you seen a passenger pigeon fossil? Has anyone? Does that mean that passenger pigeons never existed? You can’t even bring yourself to consider these questions and their relevance to your claims.

John - #65844

October 28th 2011

“Ken Ham on the other hand, far from being anti-scientific, believes scientific evidence supports the Genesis account of creation.”

No, Ronnie, he CLAIMS that.

“The bifurcation here is how one interprets scientific evidence.”

Not even close to the truth. Ham is ignoring mountains of evidence. If you disagree, why don’t you point me to Ham’s body of writing on the sequence evidence, particularly his interpretation of nested hierarchies?

Roger A. Sawtelle - #65782

October 27th 2011

PNG,

You are right, all knowldge is not the same, although all knowledge flows from the same Source, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Historically Western culture is based on a tripartite intellectual foundation, a triangle so to speak, of philosophy, theology, and science.  They all worked together to create a solid basis for each other. 

Now the intellectual basis for philosophy has disappeared with the loss of absolutes.  Without the mediation and support of philosophy, science and theology are forced to exist independently of each other, but they cannot and the foundation is gone. 

Science puts the blame on theology and theology tosses the blame right back.  The task is to restore the equilateral Triangle of Philosophy, Theology, and Science, which means finding a new basis for philosophy, which will fix the problems of science and theology, rather than determine which is superior science or theology.

PNG, I would agree that we need to be very careful in accusing other Christians of heresy.  On the other hand we are dealing with very difficult and very basic questions and ideas.

If I think that your theology is wrong, I need to tell you that it is wrong and why I think it is wrong.  If you think my theology is wrong, then you need to do the same.  I thank God that Christians are not saved by good theology, but by the grace of God.    

I also thank God that we need not be afraid to make mistakes, because the only way not to make mistakes is to do nothing.  We act in faith knowing that when we  make mistakes God is always willing to forgive when we confess our sins.  Sometimes the only way we can confess our mistakes is if someone points them out to us.  

The Christian faith is not a gnostic purely intellectual faith, but a faith built on God is Love which is relational and experiential.  Faith like science involves the whole of the person, body, mind, and spirit.  If we reduce life to a body/mind dualism which the gnostics did and some fundamentalists do, then we lose much of the meaning of our faith.        


HornSpiel - #65795

October 27th 2011

Roger A. Sawtelle - #65782
Your post above got me to thinking: What is my Philosophy? Here are a few thoughts.

  • Science and Theology should complement each other not compete; they need to listen and learn from each other.
  • Both Nature and God are comprehensible, though not exhaustively so.
  • Both Science and Christian Theology are each founded on two similar mysteries; Science: the fact that stuff exists (i.e. the big bang) and that life exists (i.e abiogenesis); Theology: the incarnation (in the beginning the Word became flesh) and the resurrection (Life triumphs over Death).

I am not sure why you think there is no longer an intellectual basis for a philosophy that brings Science and Christianity together. We cannot, nor should we want to, go back to pre-enlightenment thinking. If truth is timeless, does it matter what the current intellectual fashions are? Isn’t it the task of Christians is speak to the intellectual climate as it is, not lament that it has changed?


Roger A. Sawtelle - #65802

October 27th 2011

Hornspiel,

Thank you for your comments.

We agree on much.

Certainly, the Truth in the form of Jesus Christ is timeless, however human understanding of that Truth is not.  In fact Jesus was not born for some 2000 years after Abraham responded to the call of God. 

Our understanding of just Who Jesus is and how the universe is structured is always changing, hopefully for the better.

The problem with philosophy is now many, if not most, people today are post modern, which means that they accept the philosophy that there is no Truth or that Truth if it exists is unknowable (like God?)  The others who are modern believe that Truth is absolute, like fundamentalists of all stripes who say that the Bible or the Quran or Science is Absolute.  The problem with that is that it goes against scientific theory that the universe is relative and Biblical views that the Truth is relational.       


HornSpiel - #65824

October 27th 2011

I guess I have  problem thinking that post-modern thought is so bad. If it is one thing, it is relational. You may not get people into the church by telling them that they have broken the ten commandments, but you might  with “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”


There is a skepticism out there about truth, scientific or theological. I think we need to admit that both are human endeavors, subject to revision, but cannot one say that my theological belief that God is love and love me, and you, is just as secure as my scientific belief in say the fact of evolution. Moreover, both are in my experience, what I have seen and felt, true.

I am not saying experience can or should trump Scripture, but it is just a matter of where you start, and I don’t think the current intellectual climate is better or worse now than it ever has been.                       



Roger A. Sawtelle - #65831

October 28th 2011

HornSpiel,

Thank you so much for your important comment.

Yes, today’s thinking opens people to the reality of relational thinking, however relational thought is not a viable philosophical position according to current standards.  That is it is not accepted yet accepted by philosophers and theologians.  That is what I am trying to do and I hope that we could work together to make this a reality.

In my books I have endeavored to establish the theological, scientific, and philosophical basis for a realtional understanding of reality.

The fact that the Bible says that God is Love is theological evidence that Love is more than experiential.  It is the basis of “being,” is is the basis of Who God is, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who we as humans are, Body, Mind, and Spirit, and what Nature is, physical, intellectual, and purposive.

I am not lamenting the status of the current intellectual climate, just pointing out the vacuum and trying to challenge people like yourself to respond to the challenge.

Just to set the record straight and be clear.  Postmodern relativist thinking is NOT relational.  Far from it.  Dawkins and Dennett are postmodern in their ideology and they are far from relational in that they are monists and materialists.  However their materialist and monistic relativistic world is far from satisfactory.  The relational world view is the only one that I can see which can rationally challenge Scientism.

On the other hand people who know Jesus Christ as their Savior are on the right path to understand that God is Love and accept a relational understanding of reality.          

 


beaglelady - #65832

October 28th 2011

Roger,  you would love relational algebra.


HornSpiel - #65882

October 29th 2011

Roger, What do you mean by philosophy?  Would you are that we all have a philosophy, even if we do not recognize it?


Roger A. Sawtelle - #65886

October 29th 2011

I am talking about a philosophical world view.


KevinR - #65919

October 31st 2011

Hornspiel,
“Moreover, both are in my experience, what I have seen and felt, true.”

You have SEEN evolution? Please enlighten us as to where this miraculous event occurred? What did you observe? bacteria turning into hornets? or spiders turning into scorpions or some new-as-yet-unclassified-species?
Please be so kind as to share with us this stupendous observation.


James R - #65970

November 2nd 2011

The first part of the comments section here was almost a model of how disagreement, even strong disagreement, between Christians can be productively and respectfully expressed.  The second part, not so much.

About half-way down the comments—using the scroll bar to judge the distance—a couple of commenters jumped in with a tone that might be described as sarcastic, edgy, or even belligerent.  It really spoiled the Christian and dialogical atmosphere of the conversation.  I don’t know if the moderators noticed it or not, but the shift in argumentative attitude was palpable.

It should be possible to point out weaknesses in someone’s position without accusations or intimations of dishonesty, incompetence, etc.  I don’t know whether the writers in these particular cases are Christians or not, but even if they are not, they might observe the adage, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” and write as if they were, on a Christian site like this one. 


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