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

From: Steve Martin <steven.dale.martin@gmail.com>
Date: Wed Oct 31 2007 - 11:55:37 EDT

Hi Jim,

> I see Romans 1:20 as saying that God is reflected in his creation
> (What has been made).

I think this is true .. but for those of us who have put our faith in God
through Christ, we see the reflection poorly, as through a glass darkly.
For those who aren't even looking in the right mirror (ie. do not have a
prior faith commitment), there is no reason to expect that they can come to
faith through that reflection. This is my understanding of what George,
Terry et al are saying - corrections welcome.

> 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.
>

Agreed with all but the last sentence. Without the revelation of the
incarnate God, it is very likely that natural theology will lead one into
idolatry. Humanity has had a long history of religious inclination based
on the worship of nature, or at least the worship of some form of the divine
not remotely like the God revealed in Jesus Christ.

thanks,

On 10/31/07, Jim Armstrong <jarmstro@qwest.net> wrote:
>
> 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]
>
> mlucid@aol.com 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 <john_walley@yahoo.com> <john_walley@yahoo.com>
> To: 'George Murphy' <gmurphy@raex.com> <gmurphy@raex.com>; asa@calvin.edu
> 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:* asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu<asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu?>]
> *On Behalf Of *George Murphy
> *Sent:* Sunday, October 28, 2007 4:15 PM
> *To:* John Walley; asa@calvin.edu
> *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
> http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/ <http://web.raex.com/%7Egmurphy/>
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> *From:* John Walley <john_walley@yahoo.com>
> *To:* asa@calvin.edu
> *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
>
>
> http://theconstructivecurmudgeon.blogspot.com/2007/10/debate-christianity-and-atheism.html
>
>
>
> *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<http://www.worldontheweb.com/2007/10/24/dsouza-and-hitchens-debate-christianity/>.
> 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-editedand 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 adequatelyrebutted 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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>
>

-- 
Steve Martin (CSCA)
http://evanevodialogue.blogspot.com
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Received on Wed Oct 31 11:56:36 2007

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