Re: [asa] BioLogos - Bad Theology?

From: Nucacids <nucacids@wowway.com>
Date: Tue May 19 2009 - 08:29:10 EDT

Hi Cameron,

"So if Genesis 1 (or more broadly, 1-11) is all that we had to guide us, I
would say, no, God does not create individuals. God creates man, i.e.,
human beings, male and female, in the image and likeness of Himself, and
then human beings reproduce naturally, but in such a way as to retain, at
least partly, the divine likeness. If all we had to go on was Genesis, I
would say that God did not directly create Ted Davis, but that God created
the common humanity that Ted Davis shares with all the rest of us, and that
Ted Davis, like the "Adam" of Genesis 1, partakes in the image and likeness
of God."

I would agree with this. I would simply add that the natural processes that
brought Ted into existence were the will of God. That is, Ted came into
existence as an expression of God's will and Ted was foreknown by God. Ted
has a role to play in God's plan.

Yet these natural processes that brought Ted into existence are permeated
with chance. The genetic processes that made the gametes needed to make
Ted, and the fertilization event itself, was all about chance. Once we
recognize the central role chance plays, in accord with the divine will of
God, in the origin of each and every human being born, I don't see why
suddenly the role of chance, in accord with the divine will of God, is a
problem when it comes to the origin of the first humans.

Gould's replaying the tape argument does not only apply to evolutionary
history, it applies to human history, and it applies to the personal history
of each one of us. When it comes to the role of chance in our origin, and
in our identity, SCM's views, Denton's views, Behe's views, Dembski's views,
the ICR views, none of them escape the central role of chance in our
origins. While all these views focus on what happened millions of years
ago, they don't really grapple with what happened on everyone's birthday.

-Mike

----- Original Message -----
From: "Cameron Wybrow" <wybrowc@sympatico.ca>
To: <asa@lists.calvin.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, May 19, 2009 12:50 AM
Subject: Re: [asa] BioLogos - Bad Theology?

> Mike:
>
> Thanks for your comments.
>
> You asked:
>
> "Isn't that [the creation of specific individuals] what Christianity
> teaches?"
>
> I would answer that hesitantly, because, as I've said to George,
> "Christianity" can mean hundreds of different things. If you would state
> what you take to be the basis of Christian doctrine -- say, the Gospels,
> or
> the New Testament alone, or the Bible in its entirety, or the Apostle's
> Creed, or a particular historical confession, or the writing of a
> particular
> theologian, e.g., Augustine, it would be much easier for someone to
> answer.
> But "Christianity" in the abstract does not speak with one voice
> throughout
> all times and places -- or if it does so, it does so only on a very few
> issues, and I'm not sure that this is one of them. However, I will give
> you
> a tentative opinion, which you should by no means take as authoritative or
> as a final statement of the orthodox Christian view -- if there is an
> orthodox view -- on the subject.
>
> I always like to at least start from Genesis (though George and others
> might
> reasonably argue that Genesis by itself is not a complete account of
> Christian doctrine). The conception in Genesis is precisely the one that
> you don't like, i.e, that God created "man", i.e., the species, divided
> into
> male and female, in his image and likeness. "Adam" ("man" in the sense of
> "human being", anthropos, homo) is a generic concept in Genesis 1. There
> is
> no discussion of individuals. Even in Genesis 2, Adam and Eve are clearly
> a
> generic man and woman, in the sense that their individual personalities
> are
> not relevant to the point of the story. And in Genesis 3, their "fall" (a
> word not used in the text) is something that all of us as human beings
> would
> replicate under the same circumstances; it is not, as in Greek tragedy, an
> action connected with a particular "flaw" of either one of them as an
> individual.
>
> Further, the production of children is not described, as the story
> proceeds,
> as an action of God. (Eve's unique statement about Cain is difficult in
> the
> Hebrew, and doesn't unambiguously indicate a divine role in Cain's
> birth --
> outside of Eve's interpretation.) Generally births are represented as
> "natural"; the father "begets", the woman "bears", etc. The children in
> some cases are said to be in God's image (Genesis 5), but they are not
> said
> to be created -- as individuals -- by God. I am not arguing that
> individuals are not important to God, or that God does not care for them
> (note God's special care for Cain, and for Noah); I am merely pointing out
> that the story does not speak of them as being created directly by God.
> They are, rather, "natural" productions, following from the acquisition of
> human "knowledge" (Genesis 4:1).
>
> So if Genesis 1 (or more broadly, 1-11) is all that we had to guide us, I
> would say, no, God does not create individuals. God creates man, i.e.,
> human beings, male and female, in the image and likeness of Himself, and
> then human beings reproduce naturally, but in such a way as to retain, at
> least partly, the divine likeness. If all we had to go on was Genesis, I
> would say that God did not directly create Ted Davis, but that God created
> the common humanity that Ted Davis shares with all the rest of us, and
> that
> Ted Davis, like the "Adam" of Genesis 1, partakes in the image and
> likeness
> of God; but I would add that God cares for Ted Davis as he cares for the
> whole human race (which he spared from the deluge, in the person of Noah,
> who is in a way a second Adam). And I would say (again speaking only for
> Genesis), that the infinite value of Ted Davis comes not from his direct
> creation by God, but from his partaking, through his human form, in the
> image of God (see Genesis 9 regarding the explanation of the "death
> penalty"). Whether that is a full statement of even the Old Testament
> view,
> let alone the Christian view, is a question that would require the
> consideration of other texts. But such an account does teach the
> "infinite
> value" of each human individual, without requiring the awesome
> front-loaded
> necessitarianism that I described in my previous post.
>
> Cameron.
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Nucacids" <nucacids@wowway.com>
> To: "Cameron Wybrow" <wybrowc@sympatico.ca>; <asa@lists.calvin.edu>
> Sent: Monday, May 18, 2009 8:19 PM
> Subject: Re: [asa] BioLogos - Bad Theology?
>
>
>> Hi Cameron,
>>
>>
>>
>> "You assert that God creates individuals, e.g., Ted Davis."
>>
>>
>>
>> Isn't that what Christianity teaches?
>>
>>
>>
>> "And I gather that you wholeheartedly accept biological evolution and
>> other natural processes (geology, stellar evolution, and so on)."
>>
>>
>>
>> Yes, that is what my fallible brain perceives.
>>
>>
>>
>> "Now how would God create Ted Davis, working through such natural
>> processes? Let's say that Ted Davis is white (I don't know, because I've
>> never met him, but it's just an example, so it doesn't matter), and let's
>> say that God wanted Ted Davis to be white; God then can't have Ted's
>> parents being Chinese or Watusi."
>>
>>
>>
>> Exactly. For then he would not be Ted Davis. His genetic identity, his
>> experiences, his memories, his choices, would be all be different.
>>
>>
>>
>> "So God has to arrange for Caucasian ancestry for Ted. And it means more
>> than this. In addition to general Caucasian features, Ted inherits
>> unique
>> traits from both parents. God therefore has to arrange for Ted's parents
>> to marry. He also has to arrange for the marriages of *their* parents,
>> to
>> make sure that they have the right genes to pass on to Ted. In order for
>> everything to work out, he has to arrange for genetic ancestries still
>> further back, and for that to work out, he has to arrange for economic
>> and
>> social conditions which cause certain people to emigrate from certain
>> countries to America at certain times, to meet exactly the right people
>> in America, to fall in love, etc. So he has to have complete control
>> over personal romantic tastes and over the social and economic history of
>> Europe and America as well as over genetic makeup. And so on. When you
>> work that out, God has to set up a chain of necessity all the way from
>> the
>> Big Bang forward, which will make it inevitable that exactly Ted Davis
>> and
>> not someone else will be produced. That's a degree of necessity beyond
>> Conway Morris and even beyond Michael Denton. It's a necessitarianism
>> that would do Calvin or Spinoza proud. Is
>> this what you are saying is required by Christian theology? And if so,
>> how
>> does it fit in with your message of a few days ago, where you said that
>> it
>> didn't really matter how God created us (through Darwinian processes or
>> front-loading or miraculous interventions or any other way)? It seems to
>> me that, given your current concern, only the most stringent
>> front-loading
>> model could fit in with the claim that God created us all as individuals.
>> And it's a model which appears to do away with human free will, since
>> even
>> one fickle moment in a young English immigrant lass's life might well
>> spell the end of Ted Davis. (And none of us would wish to be without Ted
>> Davis.)"
>>
>>
>>
>> It fits together just as my original posting explained. Again, since it
>> is buried, I reposted it here:
>>
>>
>>
>> http://designmatrix.wordpress.com/2009/05/16/it-doesnt-matter/
>>
>>
>>
>> How would you, as a Christian, explain the existence of Ted Davis or
>> yourself? Denying biological evolution or neo-Darwinism won't help erase
>> the problem you just laid out. Even if Adam and Eve were brought into
>> existence 6000 years ago, and just as Genesis literally describes, the
>> problem you lay out remains.
>>
>>
>>
>> -Mike
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "Cameron Wybrow" <wybrowc@sympatico.ca>
>> To: <asa@lists.calvin.edu>
>> Sent: Monday, May 18, 2009 6:40 PM
>> Subject: Re: [asa] BioLogos - Bad Theology?
>>
>>
>>> Hi, Mike!
>>>
>>> I can't comment on Simon Conway Morris or the BioLogos site, but I find
>>> your
>>> line of argument here puzzling, in light of other things you've written
>>> here.
>>>
>>> You assert that God creates individuals, e.g., Ted Davis. And I gather
>>> that
>>> you wholeheartedly accept biological evolution and other natural
>>> processes
>>> (geology, stellar evolution, and so on). Now how would God create Ted
>>> Davis, working through such natural processes? Let's say that Ted Davis
>>> is
>>> white (I don't know, because I've never met him, but it's just an
>>> example,
>>> so it doesn't matter), and let's say that God wanted Ted Davis to be
>>> white;
>>> God then can't have Ted's parents being Chinese or Watusi. So God has
>>> to
>>> arrange for Caucasian ancestry for Ted. And it means more than this.
>>> In
>>> addition to general Caucasian features, Ted inherits unique traits from
>>> both
>>> parents. God therefore has to arrange for Ted's parents to marry. He
>>> also
>>> has to arrange for the marriages of *their* parents, to make sure that
>>> they
>>> have the right genes to pass on to Ted. In order for everything to work
>>> out, he has to arrange for genetic ancestries still further back, and
>>> for
>>> that to work out, he has to arrange for economic and social conditions
>>> which
>>> cause certain people to emigrate from certain countries to America at
>>> certain times, to meet exactly the right people in America, to fall in
>>> love,
>>> etc. So he has to have complete control over personal romantic tastes
>>> and
>>> over the social and economic history of Europe and America as well as
>>> over
>>> genetic makeup. And so on. When you work that out, God has to set up a
>>> chain of necessity all the way from the Big Bang forward, which will
>>> make
>>> it
>>> inevitable that exactly Ted Davis and not someone else will be produced.
>>> That's a degree of necessity beyond Conway Morris and even beyond
>>> Michael
>>> Denton. It's a necessitarianism that would do Calvin or Spinoza proud.
>>> Is
>>> this what you are saying is required by Christian theology? And if so,
>>> how
>>> does it fit in with your message of a few days ago, where you said that
>>> it
>>> didn't really matter how God created us (through Darwinian processes or
>>> front-loading or miraculous interventions or any other way)? It seems
>>> to
>>> me
>>> that, given your current concern, only the most stringent front-loading
>>> model could fit in with the claim that God created us all as
>>> individuals.
>>> And it's a model which appears to do away with human free will, since
>>> even
>>> one fickle moment in a young English immigrant lass's life might well
>>> spell
>>> the end of Ted Davis. (And none of us would wish to be without Ted
>>> Davis.)
>>>
>>> I'm not denying that God creates individuals, but it's unclear to me how
>>> you
>>> can insist that he creates very specific individuals on one hand, and on
>>> the
>>> other hand say that it really doesn't matter how God interacts with the
>>> evolutionary process. If he interacts with the evolutionary process in
>>> a
>>> purely Darwinian way (i.e., in plain language, does not interact at all,
>>> but
>>> keeps his hands off and watches the cosmic dice rolling), he not only
>>> can't
>>> guarantee Ted Davis, he cannot even guarantee the existence of any human
>>> being at all. Are you backtracking on your earlier position, and
>>> demanding
>>> a rigorous determinism?
>>>
>>> Cameron.
>>>
>>> ----- Original Message -----
>>> From: "Nucacids" <nucacids@wowway.com>
>>> To: "Ted Davis" <TDavis@messiah.edu>; <asa@lists.calvin.edu>
>>> Sent: Monday, May 18, 2009 12:43 PM
>>> Subject: Re: [asa] BioLogos - Bad Theology?
>>>
>>>
>>>> Hi Ted,
>>>>
>>>> The page reads:
>>>>
>>>> "Simon Conway Morris presents a different perspective, arguing humans,
>>>> OR
>>>> A HUMAN-LIKE SPECIES, are actually an inevitable part of evolution."
>>>> (emphasis added)
>>>>
>>>> "Or a human-like species means" that humans were NOT an inevitable part
>>>> of
>>>> evolution. If God's intent was to create a human-like species through
>>>> evolution, and we humans exist simply because we happened to be among
>>>> the
>>>> larger class known as human-like species, the existence of Ted Davis
>>>> was
>>>> not intended by God (let alone any other member of our species). As
>>>> far
>>>> as God is concerned, a talking dolphin could have filled your shoes.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> -Mike
>>>
>>>
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>>> "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
>>
>>
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