Re: [asa] BioLogos - Bad Theology?

From: Cameron Wybrow <wybrowc@sympatico.ca>
Date: Fri May 22 2009 - 10:27:50 EDT

Mike:

We are still talking at cross purposes. I never said that "science" was an
authority on anything. But "reason" is an authority, at least on some
matters, such as the logical compatibility of two systems of thought. And
it was on the basis of reason, not "science", that I gave you a very
detailed, several-paragraph account purporting to show that pure Darwinism,
as Darwin himself understood it, is incompatible with the traditional
Christian self-understanding of God. It is several posts since then, and
you still have not responded to that detailed argument.

I said nothing "arbitrary". I constructed an argument. In that argument I
made statements about time, eternity, necessity, chance, teleology, God,
foreknowledge, etc., based on long years of reading Darwin, Boethius,
Aquinas, Augustine, Genesis, Plato, Aristotle, Lucretius, etc. I then drew
conclusions. I believe I have proved the incompatibility that I asserted,
and that you have not responded to my proof. Rather, you have simply denied
it, and asserted a counter-position of your own.

Today I posted a statement by Behe about Darwinism. I agree with that
statement. Behe says that Darwin's thought is *inherently*, not just
accidentally, a-teleological. That is, Behe does not think, as some TEs
think, that Darwin came up with "evolution", based on pure "science"
(fossils, biogeographical distribution, etc.), and then arbitrarily put a
non-teleological religious construction on the facts of nature. Behe agrees
with me that Darwin *required* a non-teleological account of biological
nature. If you do not agree with Behe and me on this point -- which I
believe to be simply a historical fact -- then of course you will not accept
my argument. So if that's the point of disagreement, please say so; it will
save us much time and unnecessary strife.

Another thing that makes this exchange difficult for me is that you write as
if deep personal faith is some kind of bulletproof guarantee against
theological error. It is not. It is quite possible to know for a certainty
that "God is", and still make all kinds of logical errors in working out the
implications of God's existence, as well as all kinds of errors in Biblical
interpretation and all kinds of errors in understanding historical Christian
doctrine. I think that the combination of what I am calling pure Darwinism
(i.e., what Darwin actually intended) with orthodox Christianity is
logically impossible, and that those who so combine the two, be their faith
ever so pure and sincere, are making a serious theoretical error. It is
this error that I detect in some formulations of TE. It seems to me that
some TEs try to combine the two, or at least give the impression that they
are trying to combine the two, and it is this combination in TE that I am
challenging (not the basic assertion of God-guided or God-planned evolution,
to which I have no objection).

I want to be clear, however, that I don't think that God cares very much
about whether or not we get the theory right. The first disciples of Jesus
couldn't theorize their way out of a wet paper bag, but they knew the
essence of Christianity better than the theoretically learned Catholic and
Protestant theologians who justified murder and torture and imperialism and
the genocide of aboriginals throughout centuries of Christian existence.
It's more important to know the two Great Commandments than to win a debate
about Darwinism. But whenever Christians *do* deem it important to argue
about theoretical matters, then I think they should do so in a scholarly
rather than a personalistic way. And I don't think that your mere
conviction that God and Darwinism can go together counts as a scholarly
argument.

So If you are prepared to show me exactly how God can guarantee that Adam or
Moses will ever be created, without "cheating" on the Darwinian mechanisms,
i.e., without front-loading or intervening (both implicitly ruled out by
Darwin's view of nature), then by all means, give me the details, and I will
listen. But if you are just going to continue to say that you don't find
your personal faith in conflict with Darwinian mechanisms, then let's call
it a day, because I do not want to be put in the position of seeming to
attack the sincerity or validity of your personal faith, when all that I am
disagreeing with is your logic.

Cameron.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Nucacids" <nucacids@wowway.com>
To: "Cameron Wybrow" <wybrowc@sympatico.ca>; "asa" <asa@calvin.edu>
Sent: Friday, May 22, 2009 8:24 AM
Subject: Re: [asa] BioLogos - Bad Theology?

> Hi Cameron,
>
>
>
> "I, too, believe that sometimes we know things are true, but cannot prove
> them. However, I can't see that it has any bearing on my argument. I am
> not talking about whether or not God can be known to exist in the private
> heart of the believer. I am talking about competing public claims about
> the
> structure of reality." I don't believe that Christianity -- at least, as
> it
> has historically understood itself -- is merely a private understanding of
> the heart."
>
>
>
> I agree. But we are told that public claims *must* be supported by
> "evidence" or proof. And many believe that science is the number one
> authority on all public claims. I just don't think public clams about
> Christianity entail a denial of "Darwinism" nor is science the authority
> on such claims.
>
>
>
> "I think it makes public claims about the world, about nature and
> history and about how God interacts with both. And I think that Darwinism
> makes public claims about the world, e.g., about the complete absence of
> intelligence at any point in the evolutionary process. This claim is
> compatible only with either an absentee God -- who throws matter out into
> space indifferently, and sits back and lets its movements of chance and
> necessity surprise him, without caring whether or not the earth or man
> will
> ever be produced -- or with no God. Thus, I think that these two claims,
> the Christian and the Darwinian, are logically and metaphysically
> incompatible, and that if one of them is true, the other is false. That's
> why Darwinism -- pure Darwinism, not Darwinism tamed and compromised by
> Christian sentiments or doctrines -- is a threat to Christian faith."
>
>
>
> I'm sorry, but this argument strikes me as being arbitrary. I have
> already explained many times that the same argument can be made using
> genetics rather than evolution. For example, "about the complete absence
> of intelligence at any point in the evolutionary process" easily becomes
> "about the complete absence of intelligence at any point in the
> fertilization process." And the rest could stay the same.
>
>
>
> Second, it is not true that the Darwinian claim "is compatible only with
> either an absentee God -- who throws matter out into space indifferently,
> and sits back and lets its movements of chance and necessity surprise him,
> without caring whether or not the earth or man will ever be produced -- or
> with no God." I have just outlined a view where God is not surprised
> one bit by chance and necessity and does indeed care whether man is
> produced. In fact, He cares so much that He cares whether Mike, Ted, or
> Cameron is produced. This reality exists because of us and chance was/is
> no obstacle or lead curtain to our omnipotent Creator.
>
>
>
> I should point out that I am one who has long challenged the perception of
> a complete absence of intelligence at any point in the evolutionary
> process. It's easily challenged because that is what it is - a perception.
> But even if the perception is true, it still poses no fundamental
> challenge to the truth of Christianity. That's how I see it.
>
>
>
> -Mike

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Received on Fri May 22 10:31:18 2009

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