RE: Accomodation (Was Re: Seely's Views 2)

From: Glenn Morton <>
Date: Mon Sep 06 2004 - 14:02:42 EDT

> -----Original Message-----
> From: George Murphy []
> Sent: Monday, September 06, 2004 11:57 AM
> To: Glenn Morton; 'Roger Olson';
> Subject: Re: Accomodation (Was Re: Seely's Views 2)
> Glenn -
> I hope to be able to reply to your reply in more detail
> eventually. In the immediate future I've got some deadlines
> to meet.

Yeah, I know, I am trying to come into the 21st century and learn a new
programming language so I have things to do as well. Good luck with your

  For now just a few comments.
> 1) You missed the point about my counterexamples to your
> information theory argument. In many cases you cannot simply
> say that a statement is T or F in the sense that you want to,
> or decompose it into pieces for which you can do that. A
> statement can be false on one level & true on the other. &
> don't try to sidetrack the argument by saying "How do I know
> it's true?" You know perfectly well what's meant by someone
> saying "I left my heart in San Francisco" even though it's
> still beating in his chest in New York.

We aren't talking about figures of speech here as far as I am concerned.
We are talking about how do we know that God's rules, his demands, his
expectations are what we think they are. When we find out from Paul S.
that God never did intend to have the clean/unclean religion of the
Jews, how are we to know what God wants, regardless of whether or not he
left his heart in San Francisco?

"We should not then be surprised at all to find in Leviticus 11 (in
spite of its absolute truth that God is holy and wants His people to be
holy) a compromise of both religious and scientific truth" P. Seely,
Inerrant Wisdom, p. 201.

How can we be sure that God's demand that his people be holy is really
not an accommodation itself? Just saying that it violates a
theological precept is not good enough.

How are we to know that God is holy, when we can't be sure that that
isn't an accommodation to people's expectations. Maybe God is evil and
he wants to fool us into worshipping him by appearing as an angel of

If this accommodational view is true, then how much of Christianity is
equally false?

I make no apologies
> for such a simple-minded response to your sophisticated
> analysis: It's kind of like saying that the emperor's is naked.

I didn't expect an apology. But denying that communication is physical
and governed by the physical laws of communication theory, seems a poor
platform from which to criticize the YECs for failure to rigorously
apply physical laws.

If God's desire is to communicate truth, and he communicates falsity
which is what accommodation teaches, then he is not communicating truth.
Pure and simple.

What is so difficult to understand about that? Seely has said that God
didn't want to teach that you couldn't eat pigs but because god gave in
to the false views of mankind, therefore much of the religion Jehovah
appeared to generate is not what God wanted at all. This seems to
undermine the entire foundation of religion.

> 2) Tipler's statement that theologians don't want
> science impacting their domain certainly doesn't apply to me
> - or for that matter to an increasing number of other
> theologians. A great deal of what I've written, 4 books &
> numerous articles - has to do with ways in which science and
> technology need to be taken into account in formulations of
> Christian doctrine and in various aspects of pastoral
> ministry. But Tipler didn't want just for science to impact
> theology, he wanted for it to take over theology. (& in fact
> proclaimed triumphantly that it had done so, shortly before
> observations shot down his model.)

It won't be so easy to integrate the multiverse into Christian theology
and that is where modern physics is traveling. My use of Tipler, was not
an endorsement of his theory, which as you say was shot down by a change
in the Hubble constant. But I don't think his observation about most
theologians fleeing from any control of science on their theology is
false. I see it on both sides of the theological fence.

> You aren't trying to do what Tipler did - replace the
> content of theology with that of physics - but you do seem to
> think that theology has to operate according to the same
> methodology that you think (N.B.) the natural sciences use.
> But if that's the line we're to take, the most fruitful
> approach is to take Lakatos' description of the way science
> actually does operate & follow Nancey Murphy in suggesting
> the same approach for theology. I've commended that
> understanding of science a couple of times on this list.

No, I am not doing what Tipler did. But I am pointing out that certain
physical rules of communication do apply to the God-to-human
communication system because at least part of that system is physical.
And I do think your denial of it's applicability is amazing given your
stance towards science in general.

Of course theology has to operate on the same methodology that science
does. It is called LOGIC. As you are aware, that is what the -logy is in
theology. What I see is begging the question, and fiat assumptions that
violate observation in the apologetical realm. Until we cease that kind
of thing, we can't impress anyone.

> 3) In Lakatos' terms, what I'm doing is taking a
> theology of the cross as the "hard core" of a research
> program. It's significant that you had nothing to say about
> the christological part of my post, which is crucial to the
> whole argument.

I like Lakatos's view of science. The problem with taking the cross as
the hard core is that the hard core can't survive (even according to
Lakatos) if all the supports are removed.

Lakatos says:
        "All scientific research programmes may be characterized by
their 'hard core'. The negative heuristic of the programme forbids us to
direct the modus tollens at this 'hard core'. Instead, we must use our
ingenuity to articulate or even invent 'auxiliary hypotheses', which
forms a protective belt around this core, and we must redirect the modus
tollens to these. It is this protective belt of auxiliary hypotheses
which has to bear the brunt of tests and get adjusted and re-adjusted,
or ven completely replaced, to defend the thus-hardened cored. A
research programme is successful if all this leads to a progressive
problemshift; unsuccessful if it leads to a degenerating problemshift."
Imre Lakatos, "Falsification and the Methodology of Scientific Research
Programmes," in Criticism and the Growth of Knowedge, Proc. Intl.
Colloquium in the Philosophy of Science, London, 1965, volume 4 edited
by Imre Lakatos and Alan Musgrave, (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1972), p. 133

Clearly if Jehovah isn't the creator of the universe, then his son isn't
anyone to pay attention to. In the context of Lakatos, creation is a
major part of the 'protective belt' surrounding the Cross. So I would
disagree that you have correctly applied Lakatos's idea of research
programmes to the case at hand. By undermining any connection of the
creation account to reality, you diminish the claim that Jehovah is the
creator or, more accurately, you make the claim weaker which in my
opinion does then undermine the claims of a guy who claims to be
Jehovah's son.

> & I should add that your supposed parallel between Lenin
> & Christ doesn't work. Among other things, the idea that in
> any sense Lenin still lives is inconsistent with who Lenin
> was.

Once again, you can't see that the ultimate question is "Who is Jesus?"
To dismiss the comparison as being inconsistent with who Lenin was,
implicitly begs the question that Jesus was who Jesus claimed to be, a
God-man. While I believe it, you have to admit that in the above you
have begged the question of Christ's identity. By doing that, you have
protected the hard-core of your research programme but not in the way
that Lakatos would approve. You have not engaged in problem shift, you
have engaged in assuming the answer and then ruling out all other

> & in Lakatosian terms, any sort of "Leninist theology"
> would have to be considered a degenerating research program
> because over the past 80 years it's been unable to predict
> "novel facts."

The skeptic would ask what novel fact has Christian theology predicted
given that according to you and others here it can't even retrodict a
correct account of creation? True Leninist theology might have failed,
but its falure doesn't prove the success of Christian theology.
Received on Mon Sep 6 14:36:01 2004

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