Re: It's the Bible or evolution

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. <dfsiemensjr@juno.com>
Date: Sun Sep 25 2005 - 18:31:30 EDT

It is also obvious that there is total ignorance of David N.
Livingstone's /Darwin's Forgotten Defenders: The Encounter Between
Evangelical Theology and Evolutionary Thought/.
Dave

On Sun, 25 Sep 2005 17:27:37 -0400 "Robert Schneider"
<rjschn39@bellsouth.net> writes:
I think what is going on and why it is important is that the comments
reported in the article reflect 50 years of statements about evolution
and the Bible that have been promulgated by professional young earth
creationists, by preachers from the pulpit, by Christian education
persons, and by the exchange of comments in conversations among
believers. The claims that one has to choose between the Bible and
evolution, that evolution = atheism, that evolution is full of holes
(there's the "747 in the junkyard" again), that it must be either/or are
all part of the popular rhetoric of a large portion of religious
conservatives. The fact that sex education was another topic discussed
is a dead give-away that the audience contained people who have been
taught to believe that the teaching of evolution and sex education
(condom, gay marriage, sex is o.k., etc.) are all part of the promotion
of secular humanism by our governments which have been taken over by
liberals and other anti-Christians.

What I hear in these comments is a populace fearful that for some time
their deepest values have been under assault, and that the teaching of
evolution (as Ken Ham and other YECs firmly believe) is responsible for
all of this. I doubt that those in attendance know about Hodge or have
read Platinga; they may well have read Ham and Morris. The arguments
they have been provided with by the ID people invited to Kansas may have
come as music to their ears.

As one who tries to help people understand that there is no conflict
between evolution as science and creation/the Bible as theology, I know
how daunting and difficult a task it is to explain to people that there
is another way to understand the relationship, that it is both/and, not
either/or. I have seen the anxious expressions on my students' faces
when I raised this way of understanding science and faith. The fears are
deeply rooted and the need to defend the faith profound. If someone like
an ID advocate can claim to be able to show scientifically God's
"fingerprints" in creation, that is such a reassuring message that it is
no wonder that Kansans and others flock to hear it.

Bob Schneider

----- Original Message -----
From: Cornelius Hunter
To: asa@calvin.edu
Sent: Sunday, September 25, 2005 12:06 PM
Subject: Re: It's the Bible or evolution

Keith:

The charge of atheism was made by Bentley against Burnet, Hodge against
Darwin, Plantinga against Ayala, and a million other examples in the
origins debate since 1681. Of course one can always find lay persons
making this mistake, but this mistake is by no means limited them. When
people like Plantinga and Hodge misstep here (and many other informed
observers as well), then one suspects more than mere ignorance of the
facts as the cause. I think understanding this is one of the keys to
understanding the origins debate. First, some observations:

1. The idea that evolution = atheism in disguise is an inference. First,
evolution does not contain any premises or methods from atheism, nor did
its development derive from any such premises or methods (quite the
opposite). Second, those making this charge are not doing so to score
rhetorical points. In most cases they genuinely believe this to be true.

2. To counter this, one could point to people like Hume and E. Darwin,
but they were neither pivotal nor original. And perhaps most importantly,
all their good arguments came from theism anyway (egs, Hume's arguments
against miracles, use of problem of evil against natural theology, and
his greater god argument).

3. To be fair, evolution does aid and assist atheism. One can hardly
blame atheists if they are not moved by the TE claim that while evolution
is true, we must remember that science cannot explain everything and,
after all, doesn't the universe reveal a sacred depth? [get me my paper
bag please ...]. But this is no excuse for mischaracterizing evolution,
and in fact leads to a crucial misconception about the origins debate
that is prevalent.

4. Not only do people in the know model evolution as = atheism in
disguise, but often give pushback when attempt is made to disabuse them
of this notion.

So what's going on, and why is it important? I suspect there are two main
reasons for this misconception. First, people who do not hold to
evolutionary thinking (special creationists, IDers, etc) in general have
difficulty in conceiving of the theology behind naturalism. This gets to
the incommensurability of different paradigms. To make matters worse,
what I refer to as the "theological naturalism" in evolutionary thinking
is not often formalized. There are no creeds. So while this thinking was
rapidly becoming pervasive in the historical sciences in the 19th c., a
person like Charles Hodge might be largely unaware of it. He could see
the science was contrived, but when he came to the many powerful
theological arguments he did not know quite what to make of them.

Secondly, I think for some (I don't think Hodge though) their system
actually requires that evolution be based on atheism. That is, their
approach cannot sustain the kind of theological quandaries that
theological naturalism brings up. Lot more to say there, but suffice it
to say it is easier to cast evolution as atheism in disguise.

This is important because while evolutionists ignore their intellectual
history and claim the theory is "just science," and skeptics cast it as
atheism, the underlying theology goes ignored by all.

--Cornelius
Received on Sun Sep 25 18:37:12 2005

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