Re: [asa] BioLogos - Bad Theology?

From: Schwarzwald <schwarzwald@gmail.com>
Date: Tue May 19 2009 - 00:11:49 EDT

Heya Mike.

I actually agree with a large part of what you're saying here. Whenever
someone makes the objection that, say, 'God could have made a better world
than this!', my first response is to say 'And I am grateful He didn't,
because there is no "better world" or even "other world" God could have
created and still resulted in myself or those I love.' I think this is one
of the biggest mistakes made in modern discussions - the idea that I could
have existed even with a radically (or even marginally) different past than
the one I have. I simply don't view it as possible; you can't separate me
from my past, so it makes no sense for me to wish the past was different.
All I can hope for (and what the Christian faith in particular is founded on
- and in fact, the only thing I need) is a better future.

But I can't help but feel you're wrong on Biologos and SCM, because I don't
see either as taking the view you're saying they are. Here's how I'm
evaluating all these things in my head.

1: Dawkins, Gould, Coyne, etc argue that evolutionary history/science does
not suggest that evolution is predisposed towards creating intelligent,
rational beings.

2: SCM & Biologos argue that evolutionary history/science does suggest that
evolution inevitably produces intelligent, rational beings.

3: MikeGene argues that it's not enough for the Christian God to create a
system which merely even if inevitably produces 'intelligent, rational
beings'. God must intend for -us- as individuals, and that means intending
for all that has come to pass for us.

Now, assuming all these summaries are right, here's where I see the problem
coming in.

"I see evidence that evolution is presdisposed towards introducing beings
like us - intelligent, rational, mindful creatures." is not at all
incompatible with position 3. In fact, it's utterly compatible - because
it's simply arguing that there is historical and scientific evidence that
evolution was fixed (to at least a certain degree) to produce what it
produced. In other words, it's arguing for some, but not all, of what you
view as the necessary position - without ruling out the rest of what's
required for that position. The only way it can be incompatible is to make
the claim even stronger: "God only intended to create beings like us -
similar, or sharing one or several particular fundamental trait(s). Beyond
those traits, He was utterly unconcerned."

But I don't see SCM or Biologos staking out that position at all. They are
specifically replying to Gould & co about what we can expect out of
evolution as a generalized process - *NOT out of God* - given what we see in
and know about evolution and evolutionary history/science. In other words
they aren't theologizing here at all (why do you think they are?), but
arguing on a far lesser and honestly rather ID-reminiscent level -
discerning design and teleology in nature apart from revelation. That they
mention there being various theological views on the subject without
committing to any in particular seems to reinforce that notion. And even the
strongest Christian ID proponent is not going to argue we can discern -all-
of God's intention and design via the study of nature.

Anyway, here's how I'd sum it up. Biologos & SCM are pointing out that,
given what we know of evolution and when limiting the topic to the
science/history, certain fundamental traits that make humans what we are
(specifically, creatures capable of having a relationship with God) are
inevitable and therefore can be understood as intended by God. Your response
is that it's not enough to intend merely certain traits - particular
individuals (and therefore, all that led to those individuals) must be
intended. My response is that arguing that we have scientific/historic
evidence to suppose evolution *at least* is aimed/predisposed towards those
certain traits is not the same is arguing God *only* cared about those
(broad) traits.

An example: Let's say I'm married, and our anniversary is coming up. A
friend of my wife tells her the following: "I saw your husband buying
flowers and gift-wrapped jewelry yesterday." My wife replies: "That's
wonderful! Did he say he was getting them for me?" Her friend replies, "No.
I only saw him buying the flowers and jewelry. I didn't hear him say who he
was getting them for, and I didn't see any evidence that he was or was not
buying those gifts for you."

Now, if our anniversary comes and goes and I don't give my wife anything,
she's going to be upset. In other words, it's not sufficient that I buy
flowers and gifts before our wedding anniversary - 'giving them to my wife'
(and naturally having that intention) is rather instrumental. But does the
fact that my wife's friend "only" saw me buying these things rule out or
even suggest against my intention to give these gifts to my wife on our
anniversary? Not at all. It just means her friend only has access to so much
information. In fact, the information is not just compatible with, but is
encouraging of the idea that I intend to give her gifts on our anniversary.
But the information is still limited nonetheless.

Hopefully that illustrates where I'm coming from on this. Arguments about
various theologies are interesting and important, but I just don't see SCM
or Biologos putting forth the view you're objecting to. If I've
misunderstood you, or you think I misunderstand SCM or Biologos, please let
me know where.

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Received on Tue May 19 00:13:49 2009

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