Science and the Bible: Theistic Evolution, Part 1

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August 15, 2012 Tags: Creation & Origins

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

Science and the Bible: Theistic Evolution, Part 1
“Création ex nihilo,” from Charles de Bouelles, Libellus de nihilo (1510). God “inspires” (breathes or blows into) the universe, creating it out of nothing (ex nihilo).

The dictionaries I checked don’t define the term, “theistic evolution,” so I offer my own definition: the belief that God used the process of evolution to create living things, including humans. Some might find this a vague definition, since (for example) it doesn’t include the adjective “Darwinian” before “evolution,” but that would eliminate most of the people prior to World War Two who would otherwise fit the definition. On the other hand, if we left out a specific reference to human evolution, then the category would be even larger, since a number of important Christian writers have accepted evolution among the “lower animals,” while explicitly rejecting it for human beings. We could argue endlessly about such things, and not pointlessly; my point here is simply to be clear about terminology.

“Theistic evolution” has been discussed by that name since at least 1877, and one of the first to do so was the great Canadian geologist John W. Dawson, in his book, The Origin of the World, According to Revelation and Science (1877). In the midst of a lengthy discussion of the animals created on the fifth day of creation, he says:

The long time employed in the introduction of the lower animals, the use of the terms “make,” and “form,” instead of “create,” and the expression “let the waters bring forth,” may well be understood as countenancing some form of mediate creation, or of “creation by law,” or “theistic evolution,” as it has been termed; but they give no countenance to the idea either of the spontaneous evolution of living beings under the influence of merely physical causes and without creative intervention, or of the transmutation [evolution] of one kind of animal into another. (p. 225)

As the final part of this sentence implies, Dawson was (ironically) a staunch opponent of both human evolution and the common ancestry of other animals; in short, by no reasonable definition was he a theistic evolutionist, even though he thought that a great deal of change had taken place naturally, “within certain limits” that he associated with the created “kinds” spoken of in Genesis. Indeed, references to “theistic evolution” are probably no less common among opponents of the view (including William Jennings Bryan in the 1920s) than among proponents, but I won’t attempt to enumerate further examples.

In recent years, however, some proponents of TE have endorsed alternative labels for their position(s). The most prominent example is Francis Collins, the geneticist who started BioLogos. Collins uses the term “BioLogos” itself as the label for his overall position, which fits well within my TE category. The evangelical theologian Denis Lamoureux, one of the most qualified of all writers on this topic (he has earned doctorates in both theology and biology), strongly prefers the term, “Evolutionary Creation” (EC), precisely because he thinks the noun “creation” ought to have more emphasis than the adjective “evolutionary,” something that the term “theistic evolution” does not accomplish. I recommend his book of that title to anyone who wants an authoritative analysis of both biblical and scientific aspects of the origins controversy. The main ideas are clearly presented in his web lectures. Another highly qualified proponent of TE, George Murphy, also has reservations about the term, but he recognizes its wide recognition and agrees with the idea itself, that “Evolution is God’s way of creating”. I will have more to say about Murphy, a very important voice, in a subsequent post.

Despite these quite reasonable objections to the term, I continue to use the “TE” term, partly because it has historical continuity and I’m an historian, and partly because it’s easily recognized. If anyone wants to object, however, they won’t get objections from me, unless their own reasons aren’t reasonable. My only request: define your terms as clearly as I’ve defined mine.

Because the term is broad and a bit hazy, more should be said about it. When we talk about “Intelligent Design” next month, I’ll tell you that it’s a “big tent” (something proponents of that view also say), insofar as it glosses over the biblical and theological issues that have usually separated Christians into various “camps” (such as the various positions we are now studying) when it comes to origins. TE is also a “big tent,” in that adherents differ strongly amongst themselves on theological and biblical issues. Unlike ID, however, theology is openly discussed—and competing theologies of God, nature, and humanity are openly advocated, not left implicit. We’ll say more about this next time. This column presents one type of TE, a type favored by many evangelical scientists and scholars. For example, the people I will discuss all accept (as far as I can tell) the Incarnation and Resurrection—that is, they are Trinitarian Christians who believe that Jesus was fully divine (and fully human) and that the disciples went to the right tomb, only to find it empty, before encountering the risen Christ in diverse places. They also believe in creation ex nihilo, the classical view (illustrated at the start of this column) that God brought the universe into existence out of nothing. There are other types of TE, some of which are not (in my opinion) sufficiently biblical, or even sufficiently Christian, to be part of this series. Please keep that in mind as we proceed: don’t tar all TEs with the same brush—something that happens all too often elsewhere. Let knowledge, not ignorance, be our guide.

Core Tenets or Assumptions of Theistic Evolution

(1) The Bible is NOT a reliable source of scientific knowledge about the origin of the earth and the universe, including living things—because it was never intended to teach us about science.

This reflects not only modern scientific knowledge, but also (more importantly) modern biblical scholarship. Peter Enns and some other evangelical scholars have recently stressed this point, initiating a firestorm in the evangelical academic community that, so far, has confirmed my view that evangelicals in general are just not ready to deal with this, even though it is consistent with the classical notion of accommodation. My own comments about the magnitude of the problem, written before the firestorm started, can be found here.

(2) The Bible IS a reliable source of knowledge about God and spiritual things.

Remember the quip that Galileo attributed to Cesare, Cardinal Baronio, “The intention of the Holy Ghost is to teach us how one goes to heaven, not how heaven goes.” (We discussed this earlier in the series). Evolution was not an issue in Galileo’s day, but this platitude is frequently quoted by advocates of TE—and often without proper attribution to Baronio. Commonality obviously lies in the attitude, not the topic. Many critics of TE are willing to adopt Galileo’s approach when it comes to the Solar System, but not when it comes to evolution: they are anxious to keep Galileo out of the garden of Eden.


Portrait of Cesare, Cardinal Baronio,
attributed to Caravaggio (1602-3) (Source)

(3) Scientific evidence is irrelevant to the Bible—it is simply not a science book.

See above. This needs to be stated separately, since some believers look to science for “proof” of the Bible, just as some unbelievers look to science for “disproof.” Proponents of TE stress that science and the Bible aren’t like apples and oranges; rather, they are more like apples and rocks: you can hold one in each hand without tension, but they have very little in common. We wouldn’t look for God in the phone book, or in an automobile repair manual. Don’t look for science in the Bible. In principle, scientific theories neither support nor threaten the Bible.

(4) The creation story in Genesis 1 is a confession of faith in the true creator, intended to refute pantheism and polytheism, not to tell us how God actually created the world.

This is meant to echo what we said about the Framework View. It is not necessarily true that all TEs accept the Framework View or something like it, but many do. Most would probably say that the Bible is not contradicted by any specific scientific theory of biological diversity—unless that theory oversteps its philosophical boundaries and functions as a kind of religion, what Conrad Hyers called “dinosaur religion.”

(5) The Bible tells us THAT God created, not how God created

Again, this sounds like the Framework View—or, at least, it should. Belief in God the creator is consistent with science, and even supported by some aspects of science; but, it is not a substitute for scientific explanations.

An Assignment: It’s Your Turn to Read and Write

Astronomer Owen Gingerich has written an eloquent little TE book, God’s Universe. A number of quotations have been compiled here. My review for First Things identifies some of the key theological and philosophical issues related to TE. Please follow these links, study what you find, and offer comments below. If anyone has actually read the book itself, your views would be particularly valuable to include.

Looking Ahead

In our next column in two weeks, we continue our discussion of Theistic Evolution, focusing on some crucial theological aspects of TE. In the meantime, please do the “assignment” and get back to us.


Ted Davis is Fellow of the History of Science for the BioLogos Foundation and Professor of the History of Science at Messiah College. At Messiah, Davis teaches courses on historical and contemporary aspects of Christianity and science and directs the Central Pennsylvania Forum for Religion and Science.

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GJDS - #71985

August 17th 2012

Ted (and Gregory). I offer the following:

The term theistic evolution has been coined to convey a belief that God has been active in His creation through evolution. Some may say, “It (evolution) would show how God has created life on this planet”.

My position is to consider two matters: (1) can we speak of God in this way (theistic), and (2) are we in a position to say that evolution (be it neo-Darwinism, or whatever) has provided such lofty explanatory powers.

On point (1) I am reminded of St John of Damascus, “Exposition of the Orthodox Faith”, particularly his opening remarks regarding attributes of God, and what may be utterable and comprehensible, and what may not. On God’s creative powers and ‘how’ God may create, I contend that we are not in a position to give an affirmative answer. Therefore the ‘theistic’ part of the expression we are considering does not have serious meaning. People may use it as a slogan, but I cannot see more in this.

On point (2), many people have expressed doubts concerning aspects of neo-Darwinism (or the new synthesis of evolution), including its practitioners. We cannot claim, therefore, that it is a settled theory, but many believe it is ‘a work in progress’. Those who believe it is may then decide the slogan, ‘theistic evolution’ is ok, but there is considerable doubt on the authenticity of the phrase.

In terms of these interesting discussions, I suggest we may be well served if we focus initially on Science, and try to understand the established science that has been so well defined that we can identify what is correct, and confine our discussions on it. We may then have one less problem to debate, and instead ask, can this help us progress the ‘theistic’ part of our discussions? I have suggested universal constants and ‘laws of science’ (with the usual questions on natural and exact sciences) as a good starting point because these are uncontroversial, and have been measured with great accuracy.

If we make progress on understanding what it is about the exact sciences that may give us insights concerning the Creation, we can then move to theology by asking, “Can we find out how God creates?” Perhaps we may be in a better position to try and articulate views on theistic evolution. On the latter, I have stated that I am not optimistic of a positive outcome; on the former, I think we may make considerable progress. This approach may be extended to include id (capital or not!) as a natural progression (if time permits).


Chip - #71987

August 17th 2012

Ted makes the following request:

Gingerich is drawing on a famous article that Hoyle wrote for the Caltech alumni magazine: http://calteches.library.caltech.edu/3312/1/Hoyle.pdf. You can draw your own conclusions about the basis for his remark; I’d love to have you summarize it here for the benefit of other readers.

Here’s the requested summary:

Hoyle describes the challenge of trying to identify the types of particles that exist in astronomical nebulae.  After postulating several different types that don’t quite fit the data (ice, graphite, others…), he ended up concluding that the particles must be organic.   

Given this, he subsequently concluded that the “early solar system must have contained an enormous quantity of organics, at least 3000 earth masses of it.”  This lead to various musings about “a cosmic system of life” which might explain the origins of terrestrial life.   

From here, I will simply provide the last several paragraphs in their entirety, since I believe that any attempt at abridgement would constitute a disservice to the reader. 

The potentiality of a cosmic system of life was so enormous compared to an earth-bound system that it was possible to rest content with the situation for awhile. But eventually I came to wonder if the potentiality of even a cosmic system was really big enough. In thinking about this question I was constantly plagued by the thought that the number of ways in which even a single enzyme could be wrongly constructed was greater than the number of all the atoms in the universe. So try as I would, I couldn’t convince myself that even the whole universe would be sufficient to find life by random processes - by what are called the blind forces of nature. The thought occurred to me one day that the human chemical industry doesn’t chance on its products by throwing chemicals at random into a stewpot. To suggest to the research department at DuPont that it should proceed in such a fashion would be thought ridiculous.

Cont’d…


Chip - #71988

August 17th 2012

Cont’d from previous…

Wasn’t it even more ridiculous to suppose that the vastly more complicated systems of biology had been obtained by throwing chemicals at random into a wildly chaotic astronomical stewpot? By far the simplest way to arrive at the correct sequences of amino acids in the enzymes would be by thought, not by random processes. And given a knowledge of the appropriate ordering of amino acids, it would need only a slightly superhuman chemist to construct the enzymes with 100 percent accuracy. It would need a somewhat more superhuman scientist, again given the appropriate instructions, to assemble it himself, but not a level of scale outside our comprehension. Rather than accept the fantastically small probability of life having arisen through the blind forces of nature, it seemed better to suppose that the origin of life was a deliberate intellectual act. By “better” I mean less likely to be wrong.

Suppose a spaceship approaches the earth, but not close enough for the spaceship’s imaginary inhabitants to distinguish individual terrestrial animals. They do see growing crops, roads, bridges, however, and a debate ensues. Are these chance formations or are they the products of an intelligence?

Taking the view, palatable to most ordinary folk but exceedingly unpalatable to scientists, that there is an enormous intelligence abroad in the universe, it becomes necessary to write blind forces out of astronomy. Interstellar grains, living cells, are to be regarded as purposeful tools, every bit as purposeful, if you like, as a garden spade. We know from astronomical studies that the grains are mysteriously connected with a whole range of phenomena: the rate of condensation of stars; the mass function of stars; magnetic fields; spiral arms of galaxies; and quite probably with the formation of planetary systems. Not one of these phenomena has been explained by astronomers in better than fuzzy terms, just as the views of the imaginary travelers in the spaceship would be fuzzy if they attempted to explain terrestrial fields, walls, and ditches as products of the blind forces of nature.

It would be necessary to calculate in full detail the properties of complex biopolymers in order to obtain the information required for the construction of a living cell. Such a project would be quite beyond our practical ability, but not beyond our comprehension. Indeed we are nearer to understanding what would be involved in it than a dog is to understanding the construction of a power station.

Now imagine yourself as a superintellect working through possibilities in polymer chemistry. Would you not be astonished that polymers based on the carbon atom turned out in your calculations to have the remarkable properties of the enzymes and other biomolecules? Would you not be bowled over in surprise to find that a living cell was a feasible construct? Would you not say to yourself, in whatever language supercalculating intellects use: Some supercalculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom, otherwise the chance of my finding such an atom through the blind forces of nature would be utterly minuscule. Of course you would, and if you were a sensible superintellect you would conclude that the carbon atom is a fix.

From 1953 onward, Fowler and I have been intrigued by the remarkable relation of the 7.65 Me V energy level in the nucleus of 12C to the 7 .12 MeV level in 160. If you wanted to produce carbon and oxygen in roughly equal quantities by stellar nucleosyhthesis, these are just the two levels you would have to fix, and your fixing would have to be just about where these levels are actually found to be. Is that another put-Lip, artificial job? Following the above argument, I am inclined to think so. A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.


Chip - #71990

August 17th 2012

Now the editorial: 

IMHO, the kind of reasoning employed by Hoyle is exactly what “science and faith in dialogue” should be emphasizing—not incessant internicene squabbles between ID and TE, or endless attempts to reinterpret Genesis.  Rather,  bringing the scientific data to the table to demonstrate how it supports the reasonableness of belief in a superintellect.  This doesn’t get us to the judeo-xian god, but it opens the door to many who have heretofore bought the oft-peddled slogan that science and faith are somehow incompatible. 

If Hoyle, an agnostic, is not shy about concluding that a superintellect exists, that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature, and that both of the above are overwhelmingly supportined by a common-sense interpretation of the scientific data, why are we?  Why do so many Christian scientists/apologists (including many BioLogos contributors) insist on advocating only “naturalistic explanations offered by science, which do not explicitly require the hand of God”? 


Ted Davis - #71993

August 17th 2012

Chip,

Thank you for doing the “assignment” so thoroughly, and for sharing your opinion about the larger issue here. I always appreciate the engagement you bring to these columns.


GJDS - #72004

August 17th 2012

Chip and Ted,

This contribution by Chip illustrates one aspect of the scientific mind or way scientists may respond to scientific data. In practice, there are other scientists who can very often skip though any number of –isms with great ease, and blithely overlook any astronomical and mega-astronomical odds against their notion, outlook, or belief. I have made remarks on the extraordinary improbability for the formation of even simple building blocks of life, such as optically pure isomers of amino acids, by natural processes. The counter to this view is amply illustrated by a recent article (A. T. Borchers, P. A. Davis, M. E. Gershwin, “The Asymmetry of Existence: Do We Owe Our Existence to Cold Dark Matter and the Weak Force?” Experimental Biology and Medicine 2004, 229:21-32.) The paper is very technical but it is well worth trying to understand its content, as it illustrates that some scientists do not set themselves limits on speculation and are likely to propose and believe notions that are even less probable than ‘fairies at the bottom of the garden have done it”, as long as it sounds scientific.

Science does provide itself with the belief that eventually it will arrive at an ‘explanation’ for everything. I contrast this with the sceptical outlook required by the scientific method. It is this that makes discussions about science and theistic notions so difficult. In this web discussion, the approach appears to come to various categories, such as scientism, naturalism, and so on. The difficulty I think, stems from the way the scientific method is viewed (again, with natural methodology, and related isms). I think we need to agree that there is something about science that is settled, and all else is speculation and should be viewed as such, similar to a personal prejudice (and perhaps similar to personal beliefs, for example, regarding miracles).


Gregory - #71995

August 17th 2012

Hi Ted,

“I see you took the term, anti-evolutionism,’ to mean opposition to ‘evolutionism’ rather than opposition to evolution.’ I meant the latter.” - Ted

Yes, I did, as a native reader of plain English. Would you do me a favour then? If you mean ‘anti-evolution,’ then please say ‘anti-evolution.’ If you mean ‘anti-evolutionism,’ then say ‘anti-evolutionism’ and not just ‘anti-evolution.’ That will help in our communication.

Three letters make a huge difference here, wouldn’t you agree?

I’m not a historian, nor are most people. So, if you want me to understand what is ‘common’ for you speaking as a historian, then you will have to spell it out more clearly, as you’ve done now in saying “I meant the latter”. I hope therefore you’ll respect and understand my request for your clarity regarding -isms.

If ID is ‘anti-evolutionism’ then I am pro-ID. If ‘creationism’ is ‘anti-evolutionism’ then I am pro-creationism. (And I am neither an IDer nor a creationist.) Like I said, Ted, being pro-evolutionism is a BIG problem here that I haven’t yet seen you acknowledge. You are not pro-evolutionism, just pro-evolution, right? You are not promoting ‘theistic evolutionism,’ but only ‘theistic evolution’ in this series, right?

This is said calmly and without offense intended, simply hoping that truth will emerge, as you have instructed.

‘Anti-evolutionism’ to me does not mean the same thing as ‘rejects common ancestry.’ It can be, but not always. There are many different fields of study involved in both topics, including not just natural sciences.

If you really think the overlap between ID and TE is “very small,” Ted, then we’ll see about this in your ID thread in a few weeks. I’m wondering if my advice to ‘keep this thread about TE and not about ID’ was worth sending or not. There are still many uncertainties about TE, expressed by Eddie, Jon, Roger, Chip and myself that it would be great if you could focus on them (and not yet on ID) to offer answers.

Thanks, Gregory


Gregory - #71996

August 17th 2012

Sorry, GJDS, didn’t mean to forget acknowledging your thoughts and hesitations about theistic evolution too!


wesseldawn - #72014

August 18th 2012

 “Evolution is God’s way of creating”

Is evolution God’s idea?

Random selection! The strong survive (the rich eat while the poor starve)!

That doesn’t sound like God to me!!

No doubt adaptability is evidence of some form of creativity but the harsh realities of life and the cruelty of nature (animal eats animal) bespeaks of something other than God at work!

Evolution operates contrary to God, so then it cannot be from God! Therefore, “Theistic Evolution” is a misnomer where God is concerned.


Jimpithecus - #72049

August 20th 2012

Whatever selection is, it is decidely not random.


Francis - #72034

August 18th 2012

We would agree then that since evolution theory has not been proven true, and that evolution theory does not have near enough compelling scientific evidence to convince many (e.g. me) of its truth, then the “truth” of evolution so far revealed is nothing more than “politically-driven conceptions of “truth””?

 


Ted Davis - #72051

August 20th 2012

Francis,

When you say this:

evolution theory does not have near enough compelling scientific evidence to convince many (e.g. me) of its truth, then the “truth” of evolution so far revealed is nothing more than “politically-driven conceptions of “truth””?

You are doing exactly what I am denigrating: by saying “nothing but,” you reduce truth-seeking to politics, pure and simple. I gather than you don’t acually believe in truth-seeking, and that for you it all comes down to fancies we create to satisfy our politically-drive convictions.

Well, Francis, no politically-driven convictions drive me to accept the evidence (for example) that the earth & universe are billions of years old, or that humans and chimps have genetic markers indicative of common ancestry. I’m not in the business of denying some facts and creating other “facts” to suit my convictions; I leave that to those who really are politically-driven. Rather, my convictions are formed in light of facts, though they also transcend mere facts and have far greater importance.

I have not seen any evidence, thus far, that you have a similar attitude. Nor have I seen any evidence that you are interested in an actual conversation about these issues, aimed at producing light rather than heat.

Until I see such evidence, I won’t respond to any more of your comments. I’m reminded of the opening scene in “The Paper Chase,” where John Houseman “shrouds” a law student who just isn’t prepared for class. I don’t admire the arrogance his character displays, but I understand the frustration. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZJEhlIefxA)


Carson Rogers - #72041

August 19th 2012

I’d like to push back against the article a bit, if I may. First against one of the particular tenets of TE mentioned in the article and then I’d like to highlight one of the associated theological issues with TE.

With regard to the 3rd tenet of TE delineated in the article, that scientific information is irrellevant to the Bible, I think I just have to fundamentally disagree that one is irrellevant to the other. I subscribe to a correspondance theory of truth. I think that there is, “out there,” an objective truth that must be discovered and explicated. Here’ my problem with this tenet is that it doesn’t seem to think that either are really “true” in any real sense, but rather they are just respectively accepted for what issues they are assumed to speak to, and so don’t ever come into conflict with one another. The author said, “We wouldn’t look for God in the phone book, or in an automobile repair manual. Don’t look for science in the Bible.” While we may not look for God in a phone book or repair manual, we would, nevertheless, be honest about whether or not what either of these books said corresponded to reality. We would not accept a phone book with a bunch of phone numbers that were not correctly recorded, and that subsequently failed to direct users to the proper individuals. This is because we aren’t critiquing the book based on the topic it speaks to, but rather as to whether or not it corressponds to reality. In this, we should just be honest about Creationism, ID, and TE - either they are true or they aren’t. The issue becomes which has authority to shape our views - Scripture, or evolutionay science. They tell us two different things. We should be honet about that.

Which brings me to one of the primary theological issues I have with TE. I posted the following on Atheninas.info in response to a different article, but I think it applies here: 

Just a thought to challenge the article. Scientific arguments aside, there is a HUGE theological incompatibility between evolutionism and the Bible (i.e. the bible as a whole, not just the Genesis account.) Athiests know it exists, and they say so. It’s this: if evolution is true (theistic or otherwise) – and by that I mean macro-evolution and evolution as the origin of species, not micro-evolution – then you have a system of species advancement that is built on death. Death is the engine that drives advancement through natural selection – species that are not as advanced die off and are culled allowing more advanced species to propogate. This would necessarily mean that far before the first humans inhabited earth, death had been in the world for billions of years.

The theological problem with this is that the Bible in no uncertain terms and in various places shows that death was introduced as a result of Adam’s sin, and that Christ’s work on the cross was a reversal of Adam’s sin, leading to life not only for Adam and the rest of humanity, but for all of Creation. 1 Cor. 15:22 says, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” In other words, if death was a natural occurrence of evolutionary processes, even before humanity entered the earth, then it was not a result of sin. If death was not a result of sin, then Christ’s sinless death was not needed to purchase and secure our life, and the Christian faith is a giant farce. If evolution is true, Christianity isn’t. Athiests can be honest about this, I don’t know why Christians can’t be.

 


Ted Davis - #72054

August 20th 2012

Carson,

Welcome to BioLogos. Your comments are thoughtful and appropriate. Thank you for joining the conversation. I hope you stay with us over the next couple of months as we complete the series.

Please note, however, that this column is the latest in a lengthy series we started in March (http://biologos.org/blog/series/science-and-the-bible-five-approaches). The two big issues you raise (how to view the Bible in relation to science and the presence of death before the fall) have already been discussed in some depth. We started talking about the former (science and the Bible in general) when I introduced Galileo’s “Letter to Christina,” which I hope you will now go read for yourself (see the text and link in http://biologos.org/blog/galileo-and-other-good-books-about-science-and-the-bible). All of the posts since then are relevant, but especially those on “concordism,” an idea related to the correspondence theory of truth that you endorse (and I also endorse). The question, ultimately, is whether or not biblical and scientific truth are really on the same plane and therefore directly comparable. I’ll talk about that in my next column, next week, but please read some or all of my earlier columns first, in order to get a sense of what I’m really saying here. I am assuming throughout that this is rather like an on-line “course,” which needs to be “taken” from the first week, not a one-off column that can be understood adquately on its own. In other words: in order to understand what I mean, when I say (in describing the TE view) that scientific information is irrelevant to the Bible, you must first see how I presented each of the other views thus far. All of them start with a statement about the Bible that needs to be compared with the statement in this column.

The latter issue (death before the fall) has been treated extensively also, starting here http://biologos.org/blog/science-and-the-bible-scientific-creationism-part-1 with much more here http://biologos.org/blog/science-and-the-bible-concordism-part-two  and here http://biologos.org/blog/science-and-the-bible-concordism-part-three, with an especially important 19t-century discussion you will want to study at http://home.messiah.edu/~tdavis/Hitchcock 1847 Edition.pdf.

So, Carson, please take some time to study the information in these links and then come back with your comments and further questions, if you wish. I appreciate your interest, and I hope you return soon.


Carson Rogers - #72068

August 20th 2012

Thanks for posting the make-up work to the “course”. And thank you for the warm welcome.


Gregory - #72043

August 19th 2012

“there is a HUGE theological incompatibility between evolutionism and the Bible” - Carson Rogers

Between evolutionism as ideology and the Bible, yes. That position has been expressed here on the BioLogos site, as it is also sometimes on ID sites, and regularly at RTB, AiG, etc. - Christian or mainly Christian sites. The ideology of evolutionism as exaggeration is problematic, e.g. as one Priest defined it: an ideology that applies Darwin’s theory of natural selection to a wide variety of questions beyond biology. But whether the non-ideology of responsible evolutionary science (which some people deny is even possible) is incompatible with the Bible is in constant (if not often vulgar and regrettable) dispute.

“If evolution is true, Christianity isn’t.” - Carson

No, I think that is a crude and unnecessary ultimatum.

Your expression that “Death is the engine that drives advancement through natural selection” can be contrasted with “Life is the engine that drives advancement through Creation”. That’s why asking for ‘theistic innovation’ and ‘theistic creation’ alongside of ‘theistic evolution’ becomes such a challenge to TEs, something about which their voices need to be heard. But where are those voices?

After about 5 years of contact, perhaps I’ve finally asked the right questions to Ted Davis: You are not pro-evolutionism, just pro-evolution, right? You are not promoting ‘theistic evolutionism,’ but only ‘theistic evolution’ in this series, right?

Let us wait and see if he will or will not answer.


Carson Rogers - #72045

August 19th 2012

Gregory,

Thank you for taking the time to engage my ideas. I’m here to learn. You’ll have to forgive me if I seem ignorant of previous discussions/articles on BioLogos and some of the other forums you mentioned. Believe it or not, this is actually the first article I have ever read on BioLogos, so my comments may require some patience on your part

You seem to be making a distinction between evolution as a biological process, and evolutionism as an ideology. Can you clarify this distinction? I am not denying that such a distinction needs to be made, but I wonder where you would draw the lines and how you might define things. For clarification on my part, I am in no way referring to Darwinian evolutionism as it might pertain to social/cultural studies. Additionally, I was quite careful to allow for observable change in species over time due to breeding and environmental influences (micro-evolution). But, as I’m sure you’ve heard pointed out before, Darwin didn’t call his book “Changes In Species Over Time,” but “Origin of Species.” My dispute is with evolution as explaination of the origin of species, evolution accross species lines, and as the impetus for man’s arrival on the earth. These things constitute an evolutionarily-informed worldview, even if it is not the “ideological evolutionism” that you alluded to. I would not deny that science that allows for changes in species over time can be done responsibly as a Christian, but I would question whether one can take the Bible’s face-value teachings on origins seriously, while at the same time asserting that man evolved.

 “No, I think that is a crude and unnecessary ultimatum.” - You
 
Would you be willing to take the time to explain why to me? As I said, I am here to learn. Notice that my argument was not at all scientific, but purely theological. Perhaps in your mind you are making a distinction between Christianity and “being Christian.” Do I think that is possible to be a Christian and be a theistic evolutionist? Absolutely. I think that the grace of Christ is sufficient to save all who in thier hearts hail him as Lord. Do I think that macro-evolution is compatible with the Christian theology of the Bible? Not at all. And if I take your words at face-value (”Between evolutionism as ideology and the Bible, yes.”), neither do you. If that is the case, then it seems to follow quite logically and necesarrily that the very existance of sin as a theological reality is dubious at best, and subsequently calls all of Christian theology into question. Thus, while it may be possible to be simultaneously a Christian and an evolutionist, I would again argue that if we take the biblical worldview and the macro-evolutionary worlview seriously in terms of what each claims, we will find that they are mutually exclusive. To reason in this way seems to me to be neither crude, nor unnecesarry. Unless of course you think my theological views to be crude and unneccesary, in which case this is not a debate about theistic evolution, but merely about what the Bible teaches and whether or not it is to be believed.

Your counter example of “Life is the engine that drives advancement through Creation” I honestly find a bit confusing. As I’ve said, I do think that species can “advance” over time (that is, change, albeit not accross species lines), but being that I hold to Creationism, I would not say that “Life is the engine that drives advancement” at all, but rather that God gave life to all living creatures and sustians them all by the word of his power. “Advancement” seems, theologically speaking, that it would have to be placed not in the category of “natural selection,” but more properly in the category of “genetic adaptations permitted and upheld by God’s sovreign will following the entrance of death into the world following the Fall.” Or I could have misunderstood you entirely. Perhaps you’d be willing to explain.

Regards,
Carson





D.U. Litz - #72073

August 20th 2012

 

 

I just wanted to suggest some resources for the theological issues between evolution and theology. I used to be anti-evolution, but did a lot of research and came out in support. My initial concerns were [are] theological as well, so I get where you are coming from. I tend to be conservative leaning theologically, so I’m not going to suggest the liberal stuff, though others have found those views helpful as well.

Read either of the following books by John H. Walton

1. The Lost World of Genesis one

2. Genesis One as Ancient Cosmology (prefered)

3. NIV Genesis Application commentary

Other books helpful for theology:

1. The temple and the Churches mission by G.K. Beale (this has nothing to do with creation/evolution debate, but expands on the theology and arguements laid out by Walton, and form a convincing case for the “temple” theology view)

2. Genesis 1-4 commentary by C. John Collins (I disagree with aspects of his book, but its helpful in understanding framework view with a historical core-i.e. historical Adam and Eve). Collins also has another book worth a read through called “Did Adam and Eve really exist?”

3. Tim Kellers 6-part series on this site beginning here http://biologos.org/blog/creation-evolution-and-christian-laypeople-part-1 is helpful too, again I would agree with every aspect

4. John P. Dickson’s article starting here http://biologos.org/blog/the-genesis-of-everything-part-1 is very helpful as well.

all of these are theological treatments. I used to think those reconciling evolution and Genesis were stretching, untill I actually read these and other resources and found my original views unfaithful to the text. Many of these resources simply use historical and cultural background to understand what the text is saying. researching into such things led me to a better understanding of the Old testament and bible as a whole.


Carson Rogers - #72080

August 20th 2012

Thanks for the resources, D.U. Blessings.


Ted Davis - #72100

August 21st 2012

Good comments & recommendations. Thank you.


Ted Davis - #72055

August 20th 2012

Gregory,

I hadn’t planned to go further into this (“evolution” vs “evolutionism” and the separate term “anti-evolutionism,” but since you’ve replied to Carson in a way that may have confused him slightly, I will say more.

The term “evolutionism” (as ideology, not science) has been used in evangelical publications more than 40 years and perhaps much longer. I learned about it in ASA circles in the 1970s, probably from Richard Bube (see http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/1971/JASA12-71Bube2.html and http://www.asa3.org/ASA/JASA12-71Bube.html). Michael Ruse has recently started using it, without commenting on earlier uses, and I’m not sure he’s specifically aware of them. I agree with the distinction between “evolution” and “evolutionism” myself, and I used it in my own lectures probably as early as the late 1970s (when I taught at a Christian high school, before going into HPS).

Basically, “evolution” refers to the biological theory of common ancestry, whereas “evolutionism” involves the elevation of that idea into a naturalistic worldview, a type of “dinosaur religion” as Hyers would call it (see our discussion at http://biologos.org/blog/science-and-the-bible-the-framework-view). 

The term, “anti-evolutionism,” however, usually means what I said it does when I clarified the sense in which I used it, as a category similar to but not identical to “creationism” in the YEC sense. I said that historians use it, but in fact it’s very widely used in the conversation about creationism, as anyone can see by goolling the term. So, when I spoke about “anti-evolutionism,” I did not actually mean opposition to “evolutionism” as a worldview (which one might think, based on the previous paragraph), but opposition to biological “evolution” itself.

The type of TE I am presenting here often finds itself in opposition to “evolutionism,” but not to “evolution.”

This is all I plan to say about this, Gregory, so please don’t ask me again.


Carson Rogers - #72067

August 20th 2012

Thanks, Ted, for the clarification.


Gregory - #72090

August 21st 2012

“The term theistic evolution has been coined to convey a belief that God has been active in His creation through evolution.” … “there is considerable doubt on the authenticity of the phrase.” - GJDS

Yes, that’s what TE means in a nutshell – creation through evolution. As usual, it’s in the details where problems arise.

“In terms of these interesting discussions, I suggest we may be well served if we focus initially on Science, and try to understand the established science that has been so well defined that we can identify what is correct, and confine our discussions on it. We may then have one less problem to debate, and instead ask, can this help us progress the ‘theistic’ part of our discussions?”

Sorry, GJDS, but I cannot agree to those terms (and perhaps you could explain why you capitalized ‘Science’). In a science and theology conversation, both parties sit at the table at the same time. They start the conversation together, not one before the other (and not as cacophony, but as polyphony). It is a result of ‘biasing’ or ‘privileging’ to prioritize ‘Science-first’ and then ‘Theology-later,’ when sometimes, perhaps oftentimes theology must go first.

Personally, I’m a three-party proponent; sciences, philosophy and theology. One doesn’t ‘progress’ or ‘move to’ to the ‘theistic’ part because theology (and also philosophy) is inevitably always-already involved in the conversation. And it is not just about starting with what’s easier with ‘exact sciences’ (that rare breed) or what is ‘measured with great accuracy’ when philosophical and ideological pre-committments colour the discussion to such a degree that conclusions are reached before discourse begins.

It sounds to me like you are by profession a natural scientist or trained in natural-physical science(s) or mathematics, GJDS. Could I ask generally if you would affirm or deny that, if you are comfortable in doing so?


GJDS - #72107

August 21st 2012

Gregory,

The overall question from my point of view is that if science and faith. On science, we can discuss what is established beyond doubt and what is speculative. I have pointed out examples of what is established as science beyond doubt and suggest this as a good starting point for such discussions. On matters of Faith, it is both a personal matter and also one that is clearly articulated as Othodox Christianity and includes attributes of God.

My remarks are to what is believable in science and what is speculative. What you seem to suggest (if I understand you correctly) is an on going project in which three parties begin a dialogue in the hope that they will reach common ground, or perhaps agree to compromise on sticky matters until they come to an agreement. I think this is the ploitics of it all, and as Ted correctly points out, truth is the first to leave such a dialogue.

I am a Research Scientist and yes I enjoy mathematics (although my excuse is time has not been kind to me in seeking more maths to enjoy). However, my remarks should be understood as addressing things that are uncertain and even dubious in the sciences, whileplacing great value on our faith. On science, if it is shown to be true, then I have to this point, not had a problem in terms of science-faith. On evolution as demonstrated to be true, I think this is very doubtful. On matters such as the age of the earth and various geological periods, I think that is reasonably true although details are often dubious.

I trust Gregory that I have affirmed and denied to your satisfaction (again I know there are typing errors when I use this window, so sorry about that folks).


Gregory - #72091

August 21st 2012

To clarify the “distinction between evolution as a biological process, and evolutionism as an ideology,” one must be willing to move beyond the realm of biology. Would it be wrong of me to think that is what you are interested in doing, Carson?

“My dispute is with evolution as explaination of the origin of species, evolution accross species lines, and as the impetus for man’s arrival on the earth.” – Carson

There’s a simple question that TEs might ask: Could God not have ‘evolved (read: created through an evolutionary process)’ human beings? If God could have done this and if the natural scientific evidence suggests this, then problems for the believer are minimized. As long as one says that God ‘originated’ species, including and specifically humankind, whether directly or indirectly through natural or (sometimes) supernatural (interventionist) processes, the meaning for the broader picture of understanding nature, culture and the universe is the same.

I don’t really want to say more because you said that you “hold to Creationism” (capital C). It is BioLogos’ mission to serve your curiosities and potentially help to transition you away from ‘Creationism’ with responsible science and biblical hermeneutics. They are much better suited at doing this than I am and I submit you are in good hands with Ted Davis’ advice and suggestions as he is a genuine (not-too-liberal) Christian.

“my argument was not at all scientific, but purely theological.” – Carson

On the topic of ‘theistic evolution’ and ‘theistic evolutionism,’ unfortunately, I do not think that is possible. Let me add that making scientific arguments and participating in scientific research and development is a worthy thing for a Christian to engage in if he or she is trained in and qualified at a high level to discover the truths of God’s creation. Shying away from scientific training is not a sign of strength, if that is what a person is called to do. As someone who ‘holds to Creationism’ I’d guess the number of ‘actual scientists’ you know personally is quite small.

This may help you to understand more about where I’m coming from: http://vpu.academia.edu/GregorySandstrom/Papers/217823/The_Problem_of_Evolution_Natural-Physical_or_Human-Social

“it may be possible to be simultaneously a Christian and an evolutionist.” – Carson

No, I don’t agree. There’s a difference between ‘accepting biological evolution’ and calling oneself an ‘evolutionist.’ The two have different meanings; one is science the other is ideology. I would say it’s possible to accept biological (and cosmological) evolution and to simultaneously be a Christian (or other type of Abrahamic monotheist). And yet I am not a TE, Carson, so it is better to listen to Ted and hear his story about this.

Jimpithecus said: “Whatever selection is, it is decidely not random.”

Human selection and/or artificial selection are decidedly ‘not random;’ they are predominantly purposeful and teleological. But ‘nature’ is not an ‘agent’ with foresight and plan. That is, unless you are deifying ‘Nature’ and ascribing to it mysterious ‘Agency.’

I’ve followed up a discussion here at BioLogos by posting a summary on my Blog, which can be found here: http://humanextension.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/darwinism-ideology/


Eddie - #72096

August 21st 2012

Gregory, Carson, and Ted:

Regarding the question of the meaning of “evolutionist” (someone who supports a biological theory, or someone who supports an ideology?), I have no dog in the fight; I can work with any definition of a word as long as the writer lets me know what he/she means. However, I would like to mention the biological usage recorded by several dictionaries:

1. Oxford Concise Dictionary, 11th edition (2008), p. 495:

evolutionist. n. a person who believes in the theories of evolution and natural selection. Derivatives: evolutionism.

2. Dictionary.com (online):

evolutionist. a person who believes in or supports a theory of evolution, especially in biology.  Related forms include anti-evolutionist and evolutionism.

3. World English Dictionary (online) (Collins, 2009):

evolutionist. n. a person who believes in a theory of evolution, esp Darwin’s theory of the evolution of plant and animal species.  Related form: evolutionism.

Several older Webster dictionaries confirm that these uses are of long standing.

None of the dictionaries I have consulted mentions evolutionist as a subscriber to an ideology. That doesn’t mean the word can’t have that sense, but it indicates that the dictionary compilers see the biological sense as the one most important to record where space is limited.

I thus have no objection to anyone who uses “evolutionism” or “evolutionist” or “anti-evolutionist” to refer to biological evolution. Nor do I have any objection to someone who uses these terms to refer to an ideology. I think the thing to do, to maintain peace, and avoid wars over mere definitions, is: (1) Define your terms; (2) Don’t object to the definitions employed by others when there is historical precedent and the intended meaning is clear, i.e., don’t try to “correct” an intelligible use of a word just for sake of establishing your own preferred usage.

Is this a constructive suggestion?  Can we all live with it?


Eddie - #72118

August 22nd 2012

Gregory:

If we can get away from the topic of definitions for a while, I have a question for you about something else.  You described yourself in this way:

“Personally, I’m a three-party proponent; sciences, philosophy and theology.”

That sounds good to me.  I think all three of those fields provide genuine knowledge.  But I want to know how to relate your statement to something else you said.  You in your next post said:

“But ‘nature’ is not an ‘agent’ with foresight and plan.”

I’m trying to understand how you want us to classify the above statement.  Is it a scientific statement?  Or a philosophical statement?  Or a theological one?  If someone asked you to prove the truth of the statement, would you employ a scientific, or philosophical, or theological argument? 
 
I’m not saying that nature should be understood as foresighted or as making plans; I’m just trying to find out how you know that the statement is true.

Gregory - #72099

August 21st 2012

Eddie,

Sorry, we have a problem here. And yes, you do have a ‘dog in the fight’ in so far as you value clear and accurate communication at this site. Clear and accurate communication is what I am promoting and the major problem here is that some people are using 1 name for 2 significantly different things.

No ‘war’ over definitions intended, no raised tone or negative emotion involved; just peaceful clarity over usage is sought.

From BioLogos’ website:

“While we accept the science of evolution, we emphatically reject evolutionism. Evolutionism is the atheistic worldview that says life developed without God and without purpose.” (The BioLogos View)

“BioLogos sees evolution as the means by which God created life, in contrast to Atheistic Evolutionism, Intelligent Design, and Creationism.” (Front page)

“As a Christian, I wish my fellow believers would spend their energy on combating Evolutionism” – Ard Louis

Please just answer a simple question, Eddie: what is the name you use for a person who accepts ‘evolutionism’ (as an ideology or worldview), as BioLogos describes it? Do you not call them an ‘evolutionist’?

Thanks,

Gregory


Eddie - #72110

August 21st 2012

Gregory:

You asked me:

“what is the name you use for a person who accepts ‘evolutionism’ (as an ideology or worldview), as BioLogos describes it? Do you not call them an ‘evolutionist’?”

I could better answer your question if you would let me know the specific contents you associate with “evolutionism” as an ideology. What ideological propositions does an “evolutionist,” as you use the term, subscribe to?

One of the problems I’m having with your remarks to Carson is that I don’t know any supporters of “theistic evolution” that think they are supporting any ideology. They all, whether they call themselves “theistic evolutionists” or something else (e.g., “evolutionary creationists”) think they are endorsing a particular scientific theory. And as far as I can tell, that’s how third parties understand the term as well. So if someone writes the words, “theistic evolutionists like Francis Collins and Ken Miller,” I understand the writer to mean that Francis Collins and Ken Miller are theists who accept the theory of biological evolution. I would never dream of reading more into the term than that, and I don’t know anyone who reads more into the term than that. So I don’t see where there is any possible confusion, which seems to be what you are concerned about. It would help me if you gave the names of some people whose support of “theistic evolution” is support for an ideology rather than a scientific theory. Then I might see why it is necessary to make the distinction you are asking for.

I’m a little dismayed that you simply brushed aside, without so much as a comment, my report of the meaning of the term “evolutionist” as given in several dictionaries, including the Oxford. And from the larger Oxford dictionary, it’s clear that the usage you are rejecting has a long pedigree, going back 150 years. It’s as if you are saying that 150 years of usage is wrong, and that henceforth everyone should stop using the term in the old way and start using it the new way, a way that has come into vogue only in the past few years and hasn’t yet made it into most dictionaries.  That strikes me as arbitrary, and as a dialogue-stopper.  I think that, when someone has provided solid evidence that a particular usage is common and historically legitimate, a little more flexibility is called for.


Gregory - #72117

August 22nd 2012

“what is the name you use for a person who accepts ‘evolutionism’ (as an ideology or worldview), as BioLogos describes it? Do you not call them an ‘evolutionist’?” - Gregory

“I could better answer your question if you would let me know the specific contents you associate with ‘evolutionism’ as an ideology.” - Eddie

Eddie, the ‘contents’ you request are given here at BioLogos. The question is about naming.

If you answer my question, I’ll address your (150yrs) appeal to popular dictionaries. If you have no name for “a person who accepts ‘evolutionism’”, then simply say you have no name for them. “Do you not call them an ‘evolutionist’?” That answer itself is what the problem highlighted above addresses.

If it helps, look at it this way: a person who accepts ‘Marxism’ - do you not call them a ‘Marxist’? A person who accepts ‘Darwinism’ - do you not call them a ‘Darwinist’? A person who accepts ‘pragmatism’ - do you not call them a ‘pragmatist’? Etc.


Eddie - #72122

August 22nd 2012

Gregory:

At the moment, I’m more interested in your usage of “evolutionism” than in the usage employed by BioLogos writers.  If I want to know what Ard Louis means by the term, I can ask him next chance I get, but he’s not here now, and you are.  So if you would be so kind, what are the main doctrines of the ideology of “evolutionism”?

While I’m waiting for your reply, I can give a tentative answer to your question.

I understand your examples (Marxism, etc.).  Yes, I might well call a person who holds to an ideology called “evolutionism” an “evolutionist” on the analogy you are suggesting.  But on the other hand, depending on the contents of this ideology, I might call the person something else.  For example, it might be that I would call such a person a “reductionist” or “materialist” or “progressivist” or some other such term.  That’s why I asked you to specify the contents of the ideology—as you use the term.

Note that if I used some other term to cover a proponent of what you are calling “the ideology of evolutionism,” I would then be free to use “evolutionist” in accord with the dictionary definitions I cited, without fear of ambiguity.

But in the worst-case scenario, I’d have one word—“evolutionist”—with two different meanings.  I don’t see that as a horrible problem, since context would usually settle the difference for any alert reader, and in cases where it was necessary, I could explicitly state which meaning I’m using.

There are all kinds of cases where English words have more than one meaning, and people manage to achieve communication anyway.  Take “draw” a picture and “draw” in a gunfight.  Surely you wouldn’t argue that gunfighters should stop using the word “draw,” in case people get confused and think they are talking about what a cartoonist does!

Similarly, is there any case where someone has been described as a “theistic evolutionist,” and anyone has been genuinely confused about whether an ideology or a biological theory is being referred to?  If not, then there is no more need for separate words than there is in the case of “draw.”

When I read the works of Miller and Collins, I didn’t find myself asking, “Are these guys trying to reconcile belief in biological evolution with belief in God, or are they trying to sell me an ideology of evolutionism?”  I had no doubt that they were doing the former.  And when people referred to them as “theistic evolutionists,” I wasn’t confused about what the term meant.  Given the subject that they were addressing, the meaning was obvious to me.

In short, I think you are seeing a major problem where only a minor problem exists.  And even the minor problem is relatively easily handled.


Gregory - #72131

August 22nd 2012

“At the moment, I’m more interested in your usage of ‘evolutionism’ than in the usage employed by BioLogos writers.” – Eddie

We are being hosted by BioLogos Foundation and I defer to their right to control their own definitions, without me intruding or contradicting. And no, you apparently can’t ask Ard Louis, Eddie, unless you have a direct line with him that others here don’t. His words already posted on this site and those of BioLogos staff against evolutionism (read: ‘anti-evolutionism’ in my native tongue) will apparently have to suffice.

Eddie, this should not be so difficult; it is ‘elementary’ as Holmes would say to Watson. Please understand that some people use dictionaries to spare themselves from thinking. I’ve done enough independent, collective and expert-informed thinking and teaching on this topic (i.e. ideology and science) that quoting popular dictionaries to me is an insult. Be ready to re-invent the dictionary when the dictionary is outdated, primitive or distortive.

You wrote: “Yes, I might well call a person who holds to an ideology called ‘evolutionism’ an ‘evolutionist’…”

Great! Then we’re on the same page and no further problem should ensue. That’s all you needed to say. Bravo – let’s shake hands!

Perhaps we need to pause for a time of reflection if you will shake on that.

Of course, then the skepticism returns, and you add “…on the analogy you are suggesting,” which makes it look like its just little young me saying this and not the reality of informed and educated understanding. This is not merely an analogy originated by me; let me assure you, Eddie, I am not so bold or naïve. This is where it is helpful to understand what we are speaking about, which is part of the (widely unknown in USA & Canada) contribution of studies of ideology and science (PoS, STS, SSK, SoS). Are you aware of these fields?

Claiming ‘anti-evolutionism’ is *only* anti-evolution and also creationism takes a proper definition of ‘anti-evolutionism’ off the table. The proper term for ‘opposition to evolutionism’ is ‘anti-evolutionism,’ just as the proper term for opposition to evolution is ‘anti-evolution.’ It only confuses things to stick to an unprofessional ‘dictionary definition’ or problematic historical definition from a certain place when a more precise and professional updated definition is available. As it seems, Eddie, you are, for whatever personal reasons, refusing to accept the proper ‘logical’ definition based on fields of appropriate study.

One could just as easily respond, if you say you are ‘anti-communism’ or ‘anti-socialism’ that in fact, no that is not true, because of a couple of consulted dictionaries, you are obviously anti-democracy. It just doesn’t make sense to argue this way. It’s willfully attributing wrong meanings to terms.

Here’s another (best) definition from a popular source, this time wikianswers:

“‘Evolutionist’ is a condescending and attempted-insulting term used by creationists or intelligent design supporters to suggest that such a person supports evolution as a faith system or belief, as opposed to a science. The correct term for such a person is ‘evolutionary scientist’.”


Gregory - #72132

August 22nd 2012

(cont’d)

So, we can quote dictionaries and popular sources all day. You can argue what you personally believe to be ‘common sense’ as much as you like. But at some point one has to ask themselves: ‘who are the experts on this topic?’ Or, as Ted requested, how can truth emerge, letting knowledge not ignorance be our guide?

If you want to say it is impossible for a person to know more than a popular dictionary, that’s one thing. If you want to say ‘there are no experts’ that’s a different thing. Who are the experts that study ideology; in what fields do they come from?

Opposition to black = anti-black. Opposition to apartheid = anti-apartheid. Opposition to smoking = anti-smoking. This is the meaning of the prefix ‘anti-.’ Opposition to evoluti Opposition to evoluti Simple semantics. Not complicated.

Please don’t try your best and most rhetorical to make this all about YEC, when it has nothing to do with YEC.

“when [American] people referred to them as ‘theistic evolutionists,’ I wasn’t confused about what the term meant. Given the subject that they were addressing, the meaning was obvious to me.” – Eddie

Sure, but that involved weak philosophy. The meaning was therefore under-developed. Now, however, you’ve been led beyond the simple Amerian PoS paradigm that rejects ‘anti-evolutionism’ as simply YEC property.

For this thread, what is relevant and crucial: People who believe in ‘theistic evolution’ (like Ted and Jon Garvey) are not necessarily ‘theistic evolutionists.’ They are not ideologues for evolution.

There is a danger with ‘theistic evolution,’ however, in that it can become ‘theistic evolutionism.’ When and how can this happen? If TE doesn’t protect against this, while at the same time defining its proper domain (as GJDS is discussing), then it will be at the mercy of ideologues such as Darwinist anti-theists who will use theistic evolutionism and evolutionism generally for their own ungodly purposes.

And in such cases, Eddie, you will have no way to defend your position simply because you unnecessarily refused to recognise the proper meaning of ‘anti-evolutionism.’ What more can be said? 


Gregory - #72133

August 22nd 2012

Correction: “This is the meaning of the prefix ‘anti-.’ Opposition to evoluti Opposition to evoluti Simple semantics. Not complicated.”


Eddie - #72139

August 22nd 2012

Gregory:

I’ll try to make my reply to 72131-2 as brief as I can.

You closed by saying that I unnecessarily refused to “recognise the proper meaning” of “anti-evolutionism.”  Implied in that statement is that you are authorized to pronounce on the “proper meanings” of the terms we are discussing.  My whole point has been that to set yourself up as the person to pronounce on “proper meanings” is most un-dialogical.  Especially someone who claims to have scholarly background should “recognise” that more than one meaning of a term might have legitimacy, based on both logic and a long track record of usage.  But it appears that you prefer to lay down the linguistic law, and that you expect others to follow you.

Let me point out that by the normal rules of English word-formation, the term “evolutionist” would be the morphologically correct term for either “a believer in evolution (biological theory)” or “a believer in evolutionism (ideology)”.  Your notion that the one meaning is “improper” and the other “proper” is based on an inability to accept the ambiguity inherent in the common form.  Apparently such ambiguities, which are a common occurrence in the English language, are intolerable to you, and so you insist that everyone adopt a “standard” meaning, where you are the one who sets the standard.  I tried to show you the ludicrousness of this attitude with reference to the term “draw,” but to no avail.  

Your remark about “popular dictionaries” is amusing.  The Oxford English Dictionary is the greatest work of philological scholarship in the English language.  It is in every university library in the English-speaking world, and is consulted by learned scholars in all fields, because it is so respected.  It was one of the sources I mentioned.  Apparently this great reference work carries no weight with you.  I wonder what your philological training is, that you can just set aside this dictionary, plus 150 years of usage of the word “evolutionist” documented in other academically reputable dictionaries.      

You have also declined, twice now, to provide a single example of a “theistic evolutionist” whose writings promote an ideology rather than a biological theory.  I infer that you have no examples to offer, which means that the danger of confusion that you are speaking of is only a theoretical danger, with no real-life application.

One last point.  The tone of the many of your remarks to me is condescending, and is not appreciated by me any more than it was appreciated by Carson, who (to his credit) gently turned the other cheek when he was talked down to.  It should be possible, on a Christian website, to disagree with someone without boasting about one’s purported qualifications or exhibiting haughtiness of any kind.  This feature of your writing makes it unlikely that I will engage with you again.


Gregory - #72101

August 21st 2012

Let me say first that if truth is going to emerge as hoped in this conversation, then Ted and I must either agree or agree to disagree about what our terms mean, otherwise we’ll just talk past each other. Here is a case where it seems there is disagreement over terms. Thanks to Eddie for highlighting this.

For me one of the biggest challenges to ‘theistic evolution’ is that it has a tendency to turn into ‘theistic evolutionism.’ Please make no mistake, I am not accusing Ted of being an theistic (ideological) evolutionist, but let me show what I mean from this thread.

“I see you took the term, ‘anti-evolutionism,’ to mean opposition to ‘evolutionism’ rather than opposition to evolution.’ I meant the latter.” – Ted

“Yes, I did, as a native reader of plain English. Would you do me a favour then? If you mean ‘anti-evolution,’ then please say ‘anti-evolution.’ If you mean ‘anti-evolutionism,’ then say ‘anti-evolutionism’ and not just ‘anti-evolution.’ That will help in our communication. / Three letters make a huge difference here, wouldn’t you agree?” – Gregory

Ted didn’t answer to this question. Apparently to Ted, the three letters ‘-ism’ don’t make much difference and aren’t really worth the time to focus on, while to me (and other BioLogos authors, as seen above) they are. Why? Because Ted considers anti-evolutionism to be both synonymous with anti-evolution and as necessarily associated with YEC, while I don’t.

But then there is hope that we do agree on terms:

“I agree with the distinction between ‘evolution’ and ‘evolutionism’ myself…‘evolution’ refers to the biological theory of common ancestry, whereas ‘evolutionism’ involves the elevation of that idea into a naturalistic worldview.” – Ted

Great…if we could follow-up on that! But Ted has said he is not going to speak more about it. Nevertheless, the good news is that Dr. Edward Davis does seem to be ‘against (theistic) evolutionism,’ even if words to describe how particularly he is ‘against (theistic) evolutionism’ have not yet been outwardly displayed in this series.

However, here is where trouble begins: ‘anti-evolutionism,’ according to Ted, “usually means…a category similar to but not identical to ‘creationism’ in the YEC sense…So, when I spoke about ‘anti-evolutionism,’ I did not actually mean opposition to ‘evolutionism’ as a worldview, but opposition to biological ‘evolution’ itself.”

To Ted, ‘anti-evolutionism’ does not mean ‘opposition to evolutionism,’ while to me it does. Does anyone else reading this agree that ‘anti-evolutionism’ properly denotes ‘opposition to evolutionism’ and not just ‘opposition to evolution’? My view is that ‘anti-evolution’ denotes the latter. Is this not true for anyone else here?

This is thus a significant problem in Ted’s framework as I see it: he currently has no word in his vocabulary with which to oppose ‘evolutionism,’ only to oppose ‘evolution.’ What other word logically *could* mean ‘opposition to evolutionism’ than ‘anti-evolutionism,’ which Ted is saying it doesn’t (historically) signify?

Iow, it appears to me that Ted is caught without a suitable alternative to evolutionistic ideology, while at the same time he is promoting evolutionary biology, combined with theology. Thus, the major dilemma is that Ted’s ‘theistic evolution’ position cannot oppose ‘theistic evolutionism’ *even when it occurs* precisely because he lacks the grammar, if not the will to do it.

This is why he answered my question – “You are not promoting ‘theistic evolutionism,’ but only ‘theistic evolution’ in this series, right?” – so carefully:

“The type of TE I am presenting here often finds itself in opposition to ‘evolutionism,’ but not to ‘evolution’.” – Ted

Learning more about when the TE Ted is presenting actually “find[s] itself in opposition to ‘evolutionism’,” is imo very important in order to help guard against ideology influencing science and theology. BioLogos, as seen above, seems to emphatically agree.


Gregory - #72102

August 21st 2012

(cont’d)

The reason why it is important to distinguish between ‘theistic evolution’ and ‘theistic evolutionism’ is because one position has swallowed an exaggerative ideology while the other (potentially) has not. Those who think it impossible that ‘theistic evolution’ could ever become ‘theistic evolutionism’ are caught in a web of their own making.

Thus it is necessary to distinguish between two positions. 1) People who accept ‘theistic evolution’ (which includes, but is not exclusive to biological evolutionary theories) yet who are willing to identify limits to the concept/theory of evolution in and beyond nature, and 2) People who think that ‘God evolves [i.e. creates evolutionarily] everything’ and thus who cannot possibly speak of examples of ‘things that don’t evolve’ except for God Himself.

The person who professes only ‘theistic evolution’ can describe many things that don’t evolve; the person who goes further to profess ‘theistic evolutionism’ cannot because their ideology says that ‘everything evolves’ (except perhaps God).


GJDS - #72111

August 21st 2012

Gregory,

The distinctions you are making are valid but may miss the point regarding this discussion. In your paper, you distinguish between natural sciences and social sciences (you seem to lump together the exact, or, physical sciences maths, physics, chemistry, with the bio-sciences and the geological sciences).

Our focus here is to discuss God’s activities - so even if we confine ourselves to your ‘theistic evolution’ and avoid the ‘theistic evolutionism’, we are still left with the question, “How would we conclude that God did this and that, or did He decide not to do that because He left that to nature - and how do we decide on such matters?”

Since the beginning and end of this discussion is faith (and belief), I have suggested that we may come to an initial point where we can say, “The following regarding science are believable, because science and scientists are in universal agreement on these matters.” 

If we can come to this point, we may say science and faith are not in confilct and we may have something clear to say about the ‘theistic’ term in the phrase, e.g. this proves the Creation is exactly what we obseve and is consistent with the teachings of faith, in that God created a distinct universe and we provide knowledge that it is only this universe, and so on.

We may then progress the discussion to ‘evolution’ by asking the same question, i.e. what is doubtful about evolution (in whatever form we see it) and can we identify matters that are clear and believable (such as for example, ecological adapatability). If so, how would this enable us to understand ‘theistic evolution’ as such.

If things are in doubt, science can easily deal with them as speculative and more experiments and hypothesis will result. The same cannot be said of faith - it is belief and understanding that is due to the Grace of God and our understanding of revelation as given to us in the Bible. The distinction on these two sources of knowledge and belief is clear.


Gregory - #72115

August 22nd 2012

“The distinctions you are making are valid but may miss the point regarding this discussion…Our focus here is to discuss God’s activities.” – GJDS

Thank you for recognising the validity of distinguishing ‘(theistic) evolutionism’ from ‘(theistic) evolution’ and ‘anti-(theistic) evolutionism’ from ‘anti-(theistic) evolution.’

Yes, it is possible I’m missing the point of the discussion if you are here mainly to discuss God’s activities. I had thought this was a ‘science and faith’ or ‘science and theology’ conversation.

‘Theistic evolution’ suggests that God works through ‘evolutionary processes,’ but it provides almost no specifics about how, where and when that ‘working through’ takes place. Some who oppose TE even suggest that many TEers are not even sure ‘if’ that ‘working through’ takes place or if biological evolution is entirely a natural process. They believe TE is just a philosophical roundabout for ‘we don’t know,’ i.e. ‘how God specifically works in biological evolution.’ Ted’s opening definition of TE is admirably general as a kind of covering law, but it offers few specifics that would satisfy religious scientists who are more interested in rigour than rhetoric.

GJDS wrote: “Since the beginning and end of this discussion is faith (and belief), I have suggested that we may come to an initial point…” i.e. to start with Science.

First, I’m not sure ‘faith (and belief)’ is the beginning and end. If the conversation is truly interdisciplinary, i.e. if science, philosophy and theology are involved, then reason, in addition to faith is also a worthy starting and ending point. So is hope, i.e. that the communicative situation can improve.

Also, the main purpose of this site, as far as I understand it, is to educate those evangelical Christians (i.e. the faithful, the believers) who are anti-science to re-consider the basis for their opposition to science. Evolution and evolutionism are often both involved in the reason(s) they once chose to become (young earth) ‘creationists’ and to reject evolutionary sciences. So, your approach of ‘starting with Science’ won’t necessarily lead to success when you’ve got people saying things like “science is made by people, but the Bible is made by God, therefore I’m going to trust the Bible and not science.” These are people who have put up a psychological barrier to *anything* related to evolution because they think it opposes their views of Creation.

Your statement that “science and scientists are in universal agreement” is simply inaccurate in the vast majority of cases. Scientists disagree, new theories are formed, scientific schools compete, paradigms shift; that’s the reality of science today to anyone but an ‘objectivist’ who is idealizing ‘Science’ into a safe-zone from critical scrutiny. You used the term ‘exact sciences.’ But even in physics and mathematics a new ‘hermeneutics’ has been applied, since the ‘reflexive turn’ (read: in the last 30-40 years), after which following scientists around and studying them has occurred in a similar way to how anthropologists (in the western tradition) studied ‘primitive’ tribes. This highly important move served to de-mystify the ‘Scientist’ and took away any possibility of claiming that Scientists had become the new Priesthood of the ‘modern’ world. They haven’t and aren’t, though some people who promote ‘scientism’ still picture them this way. Scientists are (fallible) people too.

(cont’d)


Gregory - #72116

August 22nd 2012

(cont’d)

The bottom line, GJDS, is that I agree with your vision and willingness to say that science and theology (or faith) are not in conflict. They needn’t be, though some people are still framing a conflict and engaging in a kind of ‘culture war’ over science and religion. Where some who support and promote ‘theistic evolution’ would disagree with you is when you ask them to say “what is doubtful about evolution (in whatever form we see it).” Why? Because when a person ties a scientific theory (e.g. biological evolution) tightly together with their theology, they are even more reluctant than usual to let any part of it go, to cast any of ‘the science’ into doubt.

If ‘theistic evolution’ starts with science and moves to theology, it will fail. If it starts with theology and moves to science, it will fail (just turn into ‘neo-creationism’). Only if it starts with a healthy balance between science and theology does it have an opportunity to succeed. Perhaps Ted will touch on this kind of philosophical harmonious approach more in his second and third posts in this series.

p.s. yes, re: ‘lumping together’ in my paper, I place human-social sciences over against natural-physical sciences on the topic of evolutionary science and ideological evolutionism; whereas elsewhere I distinguish more specifically along the lines you suggest, between ‘other’ sciences, whether ‘exact’ or ‘pure’ or ‘formal’ or ‘fundamental’ or ‘basic’ or ‘positive’ or ‘reflexive,’ etc.


GJDS - #72124

August 22nd 2012

Gregory,

Thanks your detailed response; I have a somewhat clearer understanding of your position now - your emphasis on terminology obscured somewhat the content of your contribution.

If we stick to theistic evolution and accept that whenever we discuss the topic, we have all agreed on the term, we need to then adress your other point.

Gregory: First, I’m not sure ‘faith (and belief)’ is the beginning and end. If the conversation is truly interdisciplinary, i.e. if science, philosophy and theology are involved, then reason, in addition to faith is also a worthy starting and ending point.

It is difficult to understand how we can discuss ‘theistic’ without considering faith. Theology makes God its conversation, but knowledge of God is through revelation which is a matter of faith. If a person has a different faith, I think it is impossible to have a conversation on theological grounds, but as an interdisciplinary exercise, we would find as many theological positions as there are theologians. How do we cope with such a diverse range of opinion?. Philosophy recognises reason and uses this as a criteria of philosophical discussions - but I think most (if not all philosopers) agree to the term, ‘leap of faith’. There are also a wide range of philosophical views, including aethists. Just how do we select the right ones?

So now we are left with science.You state: Your statement that “science and scientists are in universal agreement” is simply inaccurate in the vast majority of cases. Scientists disagree, new theories are formed, scientific schools compete, paradigms shift; that’s the reality of science today to anyone but an ‘objectivist’ who is idealizing ‘Science’ into a safe-zone from critical scrutiny.

I have suggested that one area that scientist agree on; if you can find a scientist who dissagrees with the charge on an electron, or the value of Planck’s constant, or the nature of chemcial bonds, please let me know. You will find there is universal agreement on these things. It is here that the ‘leap of faith’ suggested by philosophy, becomes a very short leap (perhaps more of a gentle stroll), because these universal constants invoke a unique and ‘absolute’ (I hope you don’t read more in this term) aspect to the discussion of God and the creation. It is this that I think reduces the scientific argument to (a) God created heavens and earth, or (b) there is no God and it all came from nothingness. It is, in my view, impossible to think of any other outlook, since multiple universes are ruled out by these universal constants.

However, your comment is pertinent to neo-Darwin evolution, which has been the MOST changeable theory that I am aware off. That is why I am willing to regard it as a (weak) theory waiting to be overthrown by a better one.

On educating creationists (or anyone else who has their own beliefs) I again state that belief is a personal matter. I have mentioned othordox christainity and leave it at this. I view this web site as an interesting way to hear other peoples opinions and to exchange views in a ‘virtual’ conversation. Thank you for your opinions and views.


Francis - #72105

August 21st 2012

“Does anyone else reading this agree that ‘anti-evolutionism’ properly denotes ‘opposition to evolutionism’ and not just ‘opposition to evolution’? My view is that ‘anti-evolution’ denotes the latter. Is this not true for anyone else here? – Gregory

I agree completely. How could one not?


Carson Rogers - #72120

August 22nd 2012

Gregory,

Normally, I’m quite the amenable and charitable chap. You previously labeled some of my conclusions “crude” without offering a suggestion as to why this was the case. Normally, I’d let that slide. With regard to some of your more recent comments and assumptions about me (not my conclusions) however, I do feel that it is both fair and useful for me to stand in my own defense. I will, at the same time, seek to respond to some of your questions and comments toward my previous posts in both a thoughtful and reasonable manner.

Eddie posted a series of definitions of the word “evolutionist” that I found to be in total agreement with what my assumed definition of the word was prior to my first posting. I further assumed that the word “evolutionism” was a catch-all term for the sum total of evolutionist’s general beliefs regarding the merits of evolutionary science. Apparently, I was sorely mistaken. For this, I apologize. I did not mean to muddy the waters by bringing improper verbiage into discussion, however, as I hinted, some of my ignorance (particularly of technical jargon) may require the patience of those who have more technical expertise than do I. To use Eddie’s words, “I can work with any definition of a word as long as the writer lets me know what he/she means.” This was all that was ever needed from my perspective. A simple, “Technically speaking, evolutionist means ‘x,’ while evolutionism means ‘y,’” would have been a concise and clear way of correcting and informing my ignorance on the matter, while at the same time, moving the discussion along usefully. You said, “To clarify the “distinction between evolution as a biological process, and evolutionism as an ideology,” one must be willing to move beyond the realm of biology. Would it be wrong of me to think that is what you are interested in doing, Carson?” To answer your question, no, you would not be wrong. I am not a scientist by trade, however. I don’t expect anyone to give my comments undue attention that might slow down the rest of the class or force a re-hashing of old conversations. If you do choose to engage me in the future, however, I would ask that you give me the benefit of the doubt with regard to terminology I may not know is technically inaccurate, identifying and defining these things so we can have a mutual understanding and a point from which to move on.

“If God could have done this and if the natural scientific evidence suggests this, then problems for the believer are minimized.”

This is not necessarily the case. Just because God could or might have done a thing, does not mean that I should accept, out-of-hand, that he did do it. If that is what the natural scientific evidence suggests, fine. But insofar as science has merely suggested something, it has failed to prove it. Someone who views the face-value reading of the biblical creation account as theologically sufficient, infallible, and authoritative may have differing views on how those readings should be weighted over-against the suggestions of evolutionary science – particularly when that person considers that the noetic effects of the Fall may indeed extend to the scientist’s unspoken presuppositions and subsequent analysis of scientific data. If you want to have a discussion about the best hermeneutic to employ, well and good – that sort of discussion might well help us figure out how we should understand and rightly weight sources of influence with regard to our opinions. I assume such posts exist elsewhere on BioLogos already.

What you should not do is assume the problems a believer has (theological or otherwise) with regard to scientific consensus to be “minimal.” Such persons likely read Scripture differently than you, and probably have good exegetical, hermeneutical, and theological reasons for doing so. To conclude, as you did, that, “as long as one says that God ‘originated’ species…the meaning for the broader picture of understanding nature, culture and the universe is the same,” seems to me to scarcely do justice to the sheer scope of exegetical, hermeneutical, theological, philosophical and metaphysical issues involved in this whole discussion.

(cont…)


Carson Rogers - #72121

August 22nd 2012

(...cont)

“Let me add that making scientific arguments and participating in scientific research and development is a worthy thing for a Christian to engage in if he or she is trained in and qualified at a high level to discover the truths of God’s creation. Shying away from scientific training is not a sign of strength, if that is what a person is called to do.”

As I have already pointed out, I am not a scientist by trade. I do not believe, however, that this fact in any way disqualifies me from seeking “to discover the truths of God’s creation.” Am I “qualified at a high level” to discuss and inform others on the technical points of natural science? No. And I made no claims to be. That’s why I’m here to learn what I can from those with more experience and expertise than I have. Am I qualified, on the other hand, to engage in discussions of hermeneutical and theological methodology as it might pertain to the issue of theistic evolution? Given my formal academic training in human communicative processes and theological studies, I think yes. And for the record, I am “shying away” from nothing. I should think that my continued presence in this forum and discussion with you should be evidence enough of that. I nowhere said that I had anything against scientific training. Perhaps instead, I thought I could more easily make a reasoned case from theology than science, and so, in terms of argumentation and tactics, sought to play to my strengths and address one thing rather than many in a reasonably-sized post.

“As someone who ‘holds to Creationism’ I’d guess the number of ‘actual scientists’ you know personally is quite small.”

Okay. I’ll just come right out and ask it: “What kind of egotistical, scientistic, ad-hoc nonsense is this?” You seem like a bright guy. I frankly expected better than this from you. You sir, know less about me than I do about science. You actually know nothing of me or my relationships save for what I have chosen to reveal to you in my last few posts on this thread.

My own father happens to be a world-class research scientist. He holds a PhD in genetics and specializes in animal science. He has held professorships at various top-tier universities, domestically and internationally. He has been extensively published and has won several awards for his superior contributions to the field. He has served as Editor-in-Chief for the top scholarly journal in his field. He has served as expert consultation for various governments globally. He currently serves as the North American liaison for an international breeding firm. And he’s pretty darn humble to boot.

I also have several close friends and family who are published and/or practitioners in the fields of botany, chemistry, nuclear engineering, information technology, and the list could go on. Many of them share my views. Some don’t. I won’t bother to list them all though, because, for the life of me, I cannot figure out what possible relevance any of my relationships with these people could have to our discussion – unless, of course, you think me an uneducated rube with no exposure to what scientists really believe. Or perhaps it’s just because I’m not myself a scientist and have certain theological convictions that are different from yours.

Scientist or not, I am no rube. And frankly, I don’t have to read and agree with your fancy academic paper that you linked to in order to be assured of it. A friendly word of advice: when someone goes out of their way to display a humble and teachable spirit, and wants nothing more than to engage in meaningful discussion about important issues that matter much, you would do well not to denigrate them and assume too much of them. Particularly in a forum that seeks to, in the words BioLogos, “value gracious dialogue with those who hold other views.”

Now, I suppose, I’ll put my floaties back on and stay in the shallow end of the pool where I belong.

Regards,
Carson

 


Gregory - #72123

August 22nd 2012

Thanks for your well-spirited reply, Carson.

Can I ask a basic question: Is your father, the geneticist and “world class research scientist,” also a ‘creationist,’ i.e. does he “hold to Creationism” as you do (and by implication, is there where you learned ‘creationism’ from)?

I’ll reply when there is time to other important aspects of your two posts (#72120 & #72121).


Jon Garvey - #72142

August 22nd 2012

Gregory

If Carson’s dad happens to be a Creationist, would that prove that there are world class geneticists who don’t know many scientists? Or maybe that Creationism isn’t necessarily the domain of ignorant country hicks you seem to assume?

Apologies, Carson, for the insensitive treatment you’ve received. Your original questions are completely valid - may I just add my warm endorsement of D U Litz’s reading list. It is possible to steer a path of both high regard for Scripture with high regard for science. That it often isn’t done is  a feature of our times, both scientifically and theologically.


Carson Rogers - #72144

August 22nd 2012

Gregory,

Since you have seen fit to double down on your implied ad hominem attacks with regard to my dad, I’ll answer, but this will likely be the last time.

Yes. He is a creationist. So what? He isn’t a theologian. He isn’t part of an Answers in Genesis sleeper cell, seeking to upend the scientific community. I doubt he has ever even heard the name Ken Ham. In any case, his scientific work was never in any way devoted to creationistic endeavors. Those things were generally separate issues for me during my upbringing.

Not that any of that really matters. Honestly, I think it is a waste of everyone’s time for me to sit here and debate my dad’s curriculum vitae with someone who doesn’t know him, so that’s all I intend to say on the matter.

Jon, no apology needed on your part. You and others have been most cordial and helpful.

Regards,
Carson


Gregory - #72134

August 22nd 2012

Sorry, Folks, I’m having a hard time following the threads. Is anyone else facing a problem with RSS feed? I only see the title of the thread, not the most recent posts, as before.

I wrote: “‘nature’ is not an ‘agent’ with foresight and plan.”

Eddie replied and asked: “I’m trying to understand how you want us to classify the above statement.  Is it a scientific statement?  Or a philosophical statement?  Or a theological one?  If someone asked you to prove the truth of the statement, would you employ a scientific, or philosophical, or theological argument?”

For me, it’s not an either/or, but an all inclusive approach (don’t call it ‘integration’ if you don’t like that word). I learned this from the Dutch reformational/reforming/reformed tradition - ‘science, philosophy and theology,’ and not just ‘science and religion’ as is often found in Anglo-American discourse. Sometimes truth has several or many sides/aspects and people who intentionally try to ‘reduce’ it to only one realm (science, philosophy OR theology) end up deflating or taking the deeper value and meaning out of it.

A direct answer to your question, Eddie: I’d employ all three together.

- Gregory

p.s. Just discovered GJDS is a research scientist, HT, so let me come back to him/her shortly too.


Eddie - #72140

August 22nd 2012

Gregory:

You’d employ all three together?  Well, that is an answer to my question, I suppose.  But someday, perhaps, you will put flesh on this broad generality and actually present a detailed argument to demonstrate that “nature is not an agent with foresight and plan.”  As it stands, it looks more like either a metaphysical assumption or a theological dogma than a conclusion derived from reason and evidence.  But I concede that any attempt on your behalf to demonstrate the statement would need to be lengthy and might well take us off-topic.  So I’ll let you off the hook.  Best wishes.


Gregory - #72159

August 23rd 2012

Thanks for ‘letting me off the hook’ for promoting science, philosophy and theology dialogue. Eddie, I’m beginning to think we’ve met before. Do you know JamesR, who is currently on the banned list?


Eddie - #72160

August 23rd 2012

Nope.  I’m a newbie here.  If I sound like someone else, maybe it’s a case of great minds thinking alike—or of fools seldom differing!  And I don’t think we would have met before, because if you had spoken to me before as roughly as you did above (72131-2), I wouldn’t have engaged with you again.  And now I think we should go our separate ways, hopefully without animosity.


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