Re: [asa] Question for all the theistic evolutionists

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Tue Mar 20 2007 - 08:58:01 EDT

* What I see, is that we TE's have two sets of rules for what is truth, and
we use our ad hoc picker and chooser to maintain two inconsistent views of
truth. And because of that, we won't confront secular society and we become
an irrelevant group of people as far as the culture is concerned.*
And just being an ignorant law professor, this is what I've also long though
is the deeper heart of the matter -- conflicting views of knowledge and
truth. But my path in thinking about this is different. I don't think we
become relevant by trying to adapt the presuppositions about truth that we
draw from our religion / faith to the presuppositions about truth that
atheistic science holds. I think it has to be exactly the other way
around: the apologetic task is more in helping those atheists / positivists
/ scientists see that their understanding of knowledge and truth is
self-contradictory and hopelessly impoverished. There is a way of thinking
about knowledge and truth that recognizes the real value in both the
empirical description of a DNA molecule and a sonnet about the majesty of
creation, without elevating one type of description over the other, and
without claiming either that the empirical description lacks any beauty or
that the sonnet lacks any connection with reality beyond mere emotion. I
guess at heart my view of apologetics is more presuppositional than
evidential, if we have to use those categories, though I think the ideal
integrates these different approaches.

A last thought -- I've been reading Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov
lately, and came across this little snippet from a portion of the book that
sketches the "talks and homilies of the Elder Zosima." Zosima is of course
a fictional character, but some of this section on his talks and homilies is
drawn from homilies given by St. Isaac the Syrian, an early Christian
ascetic. Here is what caught my eye -- actually what struck me to the

One may stand perpelexed before some thought, especially seeing men's sin,
asking oneself: 'Shall I take it by force, or by humble love?' Always
resolve to take it by humble love. If you so resolve once and for all, you
will be able to overcome the whole world. A loving humility is a terrible
power, the most powerful of all, nothing compares with it. Keep company
with yourself and look to yourself every day and hour, every minute, that
your image be ever gracious. See, here you have pased by a small child,
passed by in anger, with a foul word, with a wrathful soul; you perhaps did
not notice the child, but he saw you, and our unsightly and impious image
has remained in his defenseless heart. You did not know it, but you may
thereby have planted a bad seed in him, and it may grow, and all because you
did not restrain yourself before the child, because you did not nurture in
yourself a heedful, active love. Brothers, love is a teacher, but one must
know how to acquire it, for it is difficult to acquire, it is dearly bought,
by long work over a long time, for oune ought to love not for a chance
moment but for all time.

The best apologetic is humble love.

On 3/20/07, Glenn Morton <> wrote:
> This will be my last post before unsubscribing.
> This thread started when I posted Collins observation that TE's don't
> confront the secular society out of fear of what their colleagues would
> say. The thread then devolved into the usual dispute about whether or not
> the Bible tells us anything real about history/ miracles or theology and how
> do we determine that. If we TE's hold that the miracles aren't real, that
> the history isn't real, that all is kabbalistic symbolism and theology, then
> no wonder we are reticent to confront secular scientists--we have nothing
> to offer them that they would want--and we know it.
> One of the interesting things I noticed was that there is a difference
> between interpretation of the Bible and re-writing of the Bible. I will pick
> on George, who offered his village as the site of the original sin. It
> requires re-writing the Bible, not interpreting it. The difference between
> interpreting and re-writing is an extremely important distinction. One
> must change the words from singular to plural. But there is a huge problem
> going this direction. In science, when we make up the data, we face a huge
> penalty for doing so. In deed, we get fired.
> Consider the Jan Hendrik Schon case. This young physicist was the author
> on a paper every 8 days in 2001, and claimed to have created a molecular
> scale transistor. But when someone noted that two different experiments,
> conducted at different temperatures had the identical noise, suspicions were
> aroused.
> The committee investigating him said found him guilty on 16 of 24
> allegations of scientific fraud
> "They found that whole data sets were reused in a number of different
> experiments. They also found that some of his graphs, which purportedly had
> been plotted from experimental data, had instead been produced using
> mathematical functions."
> What about Cyril Burt? He apparently made up two of his collaborators and
> the error bars on multiple tests are identical to the 3rd decimal place.
> Now, if we denigrate making up the data when it comes to one half of the
> science/theology issue and rightfully would call for the heads of our
> scientific colleagues who manufacture or falsify the data, do we have an
> ethical right to ignore it when we do it on the theology side?
> We say we want to change society, but won't our scientific colleagues,
> with whom we work closely see through the fact that we are changing what the
> Bible says in order to make it say what we want it to say? Will they find
> that any more ethical? How can we tell them that they should believe the
> Bible is true based upon making the Bible say what it clearly doesn't say?
> Schon couldn't get away with saying that his conclusions are correct even
> though the data doesn't say what he says it does. So, why do we get to do
> this in theology? Yeah, I am just an ignorant scientist who doesn't really
> know theology, but doesn't theology teach us that we should be truthful
> about the data? And doesn't the data of the Bible have ONE man and ONE
> woman, not a village of sinners? Doesn't the Bible say miracles happened?
> What right do we have to re-write it to say the miracles didn't happen?
> One other thing we TE's can't offer to our atheistic colleagues and get
> away with it. This is the claim that what is false is to be deeply revered.
> Science is about rooting out falsehoods, matching the observational data.
> When we claim the Bible is historically/factually false in large portions of
> it, and then offer it as THE way to heaven, we all know in our hearts that
> our colleagues would laugh at us. So, my view of why TE's don't confront
> atheism and the secularization of society once again agrees with Collins
> reason--we fear their reaction to the lunatic conflation of illogic and
> falisty we offer.
> If a scientist were to suddenly start talking about phlogiston, admitting
> that it wasn't true, but that it was deeply meaningful and contained the
> meaning of life, our scientific colleagues would bundle us off the the
> padded cell where we could get in touch with our inner phlogiston. Yet this
> is precisely what we do and may at the root be why we are fearful of telling
> our colleagues how wrong they are to be atheists. We have nothing REAL to
> offer them.
> Here is Collins' quote again
> "While many scientists ascribe to TE, they are in general reluctant to
> speak out for fear of negative reaction from their scientific peers, or
> perhaps for fear of criticism from the theological community." Francis
> Collins, The Language of God, (New York: Free Press, 2006), p. 202
> In this thread, one has seen the criticism of the theological community
> for anyone who wants reality in their cup of tea. If I didn't want reality
> in my explanations of reality, I would be chewing peyote buttons somewhere
> in Northern Mexico. If we didn't want to know reality, why did we become
> scientists? And once scientists, why on earth do we settle for data
> falsification and illogic where it comes to theology? Are we like the
> school boy who, seeing that there are no teachers around to catch us, settle
> for reading Cliff Notes rather than the book--a cheap immitation of reality?
> I have to go to work now, but I will end this with my second favorite
> quotation from Tipler.
> "This advance of atheism can be documented in the history of twentieth-century
> biology. The Cornell historian of biology William B. Provine has pointed
> out that in the 1920s many, probably most, evolutionists were religious.
> At that time Darwinian evolution theory was in eclipse, having been
> temporarily replaced by the hypothesis of a purposive force which was
> evolving life toward more complexity. The dean of the American
> evolutionists, Henry Osborn, head of the American Museum of Natural
> History, called this force 'aristogenesis'; the French philosopher Henri
> Bergson called it elan vital; the French evolutionist Pierre Teilhard de
> Chardin called it 'radial energy.' The terms were different but the
> evolutionary mechanism was the same: there was a nonphysical cosmic force
> guiding evolution. The existence of such a force was the consensus
> belief of evolutionists in the 1920s, and it was a small step to identify
> the force with God.
> "The consensus opinion returned to Darwinism in the 1930s and 1940s
> with the development of the Modern Synthesis, which invokes nonpurposive
> mechanisms-natural selection, random genetic drift, mutation, migration,
> and geographic isolation--to account for evolution. Organisms are
> created by blind deterministic mechanisms combined with others that are
> effectively random. (Here, I might add, is another example of science
> returning to a previously rejected theory. A return for which I am glad,
> since the Omega Point Theory presupposes the truth of the Modern
> Synthesis; indeed its truth is essential for the free will model
> developed in Chapter V.) By the end of the 1940s, all trace of God had
> been eliminated from evolutionary biology.
> "Provine remarks, 'My observation is that the great majority of modern
> evolutionary biologists are atheists or something very close to that. Yet
> prominent atheistic or agnostic scientists publically deny that there is
> any conflict between science and religion. Rather than simple
> intellectual dishonesty, this position is pragmatic. In the United
> States, elected members of Congress al proclaim to be religious; many
> scientists believe that funding for science might suffer if the atheistic
> implications of modern science were widely understood.' Provine's
> opinion is confirmed by Steven Weinberg's 1987 congressional testimony
> asking for money to build the SSC, a $10 billion device to be constructed
> in Texas. (Funding has since been cut off.) A congressman asked
> Weinberg if the SSC would enable us to find God, and Weinberg declined to
> answer. But eventually the atheistic implications of modern science will
> be understood by the general public, who will themselves become atheists.
> The majority of Western Europeans and a large minority of Americans have
> already become effective atheists: they rarely if ever go to any church,
> and a belief in God plays no role in their daily lives. The evidence is
> clear and unequivocal: if scientists have no need of the God hypothesis,
> neither will anyone else. Were theologians to succeed in their attempt
> to strictly separate science and religion, they would kill religion. Theology
> simply must become a branch of physics if it is to survive. That even
> theologians are slowly becoming effective atheists has been documented by
> the American philosopher Thomas Sheehan." ~ Frank J. Tipler, *The Physics
> of Immortality*, (New York: Doubleday, 1994), p. 9-10
> For those who wonder why I do this, truth is precious and too easily
> tarnished. If I can't live my life with the same rules at work as I have on
> Sunday, then I will change to one set or the other. What I see, is that we
> TE's have two sets of rules for what is truth, and we use our ad hoc picker
> and chooser to maintain two inconsistent views of truth. And because of
> that, we won't confront secular society and we become an irrelevant group of
> people as far as the culture is concerned.
> Let's drink to our irrelevancy!
> Carib, I will tell you when I start my debating with the atheists. My
> radiation ends Tomorrow, I want a week to get to feeling better (indeed, I
> shouldn't have done this debate feeling the way I do).
> glenn
> They're Here: The Pathway Papers
> Foundation, Fall, and Flood
> Adam, Apes and Anthropology

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Received on Tue Mar 20 08:58:19 2007

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