Re: [asa] D'Souza vs. Hitchens - Surrending the debate epistemologically by subjecting revealed knowledge to science

From: Jim Armstrong <>
Date: Wed Oct 31 2007 - 11:30:51 EDT

Ditto! There is so much value in the two-book perspective (though one
may reasonably argue that it is really all a single book). God's
Creation seems to reflect so much of the character of its creator as I
have come to know it, the orderliness and constancy, its providence and
fruitfulness (including as I understand it, life as we experience it),
the extraordinary existence of awareness and creativity, and so on. But
perhaps the crowning attribute is Creation's marvelous (in every sense)
invitation to discovery. Promise-laden and life-enriching streams of
curiosity and revelation converge in a providential context of language
and conceptualization to not only invite us to explore and experience
the so-called natural world in new ways, but also to explore and find
paths to better and more personal encounter with the Author of Creation.

To those of us who are privileged to have worked in some discipline(s)
that embody these explorations, the progressive revelations encountered
are at once profoundly humbling and exciting. The messages of love and
restoration that dominates and suffuses the sacred writings are not only
undimmed by these adventures of discovery and privilege, they are
instead thereby adorned with new facets and indeed even new dimensions,
unseen by any other means.

For that reason, when a congregation sings about "an awsome God", most
don't know even half the story! And yet, there is that remarkable and
little understood quality of the aesthetic that allows even the most
technically illiterate to be overwhelmed by a view of star strewn night
sky, or the sweet smell of a baby. And there is often an accompanying
stirring of the heart as well that speaks anew of the Author of those
miracles. What providence. What love! And what travesty to suggest that
any of this has anything remotely to do with idolatry.

JimA [Friend of ASA] wrote:

> It was I who brought up Romans 1:20 in the thread and I have to go
> with John
> on this one, George. I see Romans 1:20 as saying that God is
> reflected in his creation
> (What has been made).
> -Mike (Friend of ASA)
> -----Original Message-----
> From: John Walley <>
> To: 'George Murphy' <>;
> Sent: Tue, 30 Oct 2007 11:01 pm
> Subject: RE: [asa] D'Souza vs. Hitchens - Surrending the debate
> epistemologically by subjecting revealed knowledge to science
> George,
> Sorry for the delay in the response but I wanted to get back to you on
> this. I remember your email on 23 October but then as now I am not
> sure I am in agreement with you on the interpretation of Rom 1:20.
> That is an interesting perspective but I don’t see that as being
> consistent with the rest of scripture.
> There are many other scriptures that seem to imply this same
> “idolatry” of natural theology. For instance, “The fool has said in
> his heart there is no God”, “The heavens declare the Glory of God” and
> God reveals His wrath against those “who suppress the truth in
> unrighteousness” etc., etc.. To me, these all make clear that God’s
> perspective on the default conclusion of natural revelation is that it
> leads to Him. I don’t know where you get this idolatry twist.
> This I would consider valid knowledge and truth and therefore
> impertinent to surrender that in any debate with atheists. I will
> concede that this is knowledge from a spiritual source ultimately but
> as the above scriptures indicate, all the evidence leads to it and the
> only way to avoid this conclusion is to willfully reject it and live
> in denial of it. But however, keep in mind that the source of truth or
> knowledge in no way disqualifies it from being so. For instance, a
> good example from the ID literature is the discovery of the benzene
> ring which was the result of a dream.
> John
> -----Original Message-----
> From: <>
> [
> <>] On Behalf Of George Murphy
> Sent: Sunday, October 28, 2007 4:15 PM
> To: John Walley; <>
> Subject: Re: [asa] D'Souza vs. Hitchens - Surrending the debate
> epistemologically by subjecting revealed knowledge to science
> John -
> In a post of 23 October I pointed out some of the problems with the
> type of appeal to Rom.1:20 that you keep trying to make. In the real
> world in which all people are sinful, one can speak of "knowledge" of
> God from creation only in an extremely limited sense since the result
> of trying to develop such a knowledge from observation of the world
> alone is inevitable idolatry. That is Paul's whole point in that
> passage & it's a serious mistake to try to make it into an
> argument for natural revelation.
> & in fact "the project of natural theology" to which Groothuis refers
> is simply the project of idolatry. An attempt to base the claim that
> "there is a God" on observations of nature may be just barely
> defensible, but any attempt to say who or what God (which is what a
> "theology" will do) will always produce some false god.
> Again, it's a quite different matter to look at the natural world in
> the light of God's historical revelation which is centered on Christ &
> to try to develop a "natural theology" as part of explicitly Christian
> theology. But that doesn't seem to be what either Groothuis or you
> are talking about.
> Shalom
> George
> <>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: John Walley <>
> To: <>
> Sent: Sunday, October 28, 2007 3:50 AM
> Subject: [asa] D'Souza vs. Hitchens - Surrending the debate
> epistemologically by subjecting revealed knowledge to science
> Below is an excerpt of a blog posting of a review of a recent
> debate between Dinesh D’Souza and Christopher Hitchens at King’s
> College by philosopher and professor Douglas Groothuis.
> I am curious to get any comments from the list on his observations
> because he charges Dinesh with selling the farm ”epistemologically
> and apologetically” because he concedes faith beliefs are not
> valid knowledge and knowledge can only be what is empirically
> proven. This is very similar to the recent discussion on the
> philosophical foundation from Rom. 20 of God having revealed real
> knowledge (and not just faith) in his creation. And in fact from
> this scripture that says that those that reject this knowledge are
> “without excuse”, it is clear God considers this revealed
> knowledge to be valid and binding and manifest to all and not some
> subjective idea that is subject to interpretation or the approval
> of science.
> I think Groothius may have articulated it here better than I but I
> think we are in agreement that as soon as we surrender this
> revealed “knowledge” as not being valid and instead replacing it
> with only “science” then we have already lost the debate. And this
> does appear to be the strategy of atheists and therefore the
> danger in siding with them too strongly in their marginalizing the
> arguments from ID.
> Thanks
> John
> Debate: Christianity and Atheism
> Dinesh D'Souza (author of What's So Great About Christianity) and
> Christopher Hitchens (author of God is Not Great) recently debated
> at King's College
> <>.
> I will not give a point by point commentary, but limit myself to
> three comments, the first of which is the most important.
> 1. At 1.26 D'Souza completely sells the farm epistemologically and
> apologetically--despite the many fine points he made throughout
> the debate. He claims that his religious belief is not knowledge.
> He does not know it to be true; he only believes it. In so doing,
> he seems to restrict knowledge to what is empirically verifiable.
> But there is no reason to do. We know many things apart from
> empirical evidence (such as basic moral claims). Moreover, we can
> infer the existence the supernatural from the natural (the project
> of natural theology; see In Defense of Natural Theology, which I
> co-edited and to which I contributed a chapter.) D'Souza goes on
> to say that while he leaps toward God, Hitchens leaps toward
> atheism. I groaned loudly to myself when I heard it (although my
> wife probably heard me). Many in the crowd applauded.
> This is tragic. We must enter the public square making knowledge
> claims, not mere faith claims that are allowable, just as
> allowable as theism or some other worldview. We need to try to out
> argue the opposition by marshalling the strongest possible
> arguments for Christianity and against atheism. In fact, D'Souza
> gave some strong arguments not adequately rebutted by Hitchens by
> the time he sold the farm. There was no need to do so; and in so
> doing, he sets a terrible example for Christian persuasion in the
> public realm (despite the virtues he exhibited in the debate).
> 2. The form of the debate was poor. Neither speaker has enough
> time for opening comments or for rebuttal. The supposed "cross
> examination" devolved into haranguing at time, with the moderator
> (Marvin O'laski) failing to intervene to keep order. Serious
> debates should have strict rules.
> 3. Both speakers issued cheap shots by insulting the other speaker
> in ways not required by their arguments. This may get applause,
> but makes no logical point.
> Apparently, D'Souza has come to a more mature Christian conviction
> recently. He is not known as a philosopher, but as a social critic
> and political writer. I never detected an overt Christian
> worldview in the several books I've read by him over the years. At
> that crucial time of 1:26 this weakness showed. I have not yet
> finished his book, however. Perhaps I'll say more then.
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
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Received on Wed Oct 31 11:31:36 2007

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