Re: [asa] BioLogos - Bad Theology?

From: Nucacids <nucacids@wowway.com>
Date: Fri May 22 2009 - 22:57:25 EDT

Hi Cameron,

Yes, I would agree we are talking at cross-purposes so let me make this my
last contribution.

I was unclear when I wrote, "this argument strikes me as being arbitrary."
It's not the argument itself that seems arbitrary to me, but the
*application* of the argument. As I have tried to explain many times, if
chance and necessity pose a fatal problem for Christianity via Darwinism and
its explanation for the origin of the human species, I don't understand why
chance and necessity don't pose a fatal problem for Christianity via
genetics and its explanation for the origin of individual members of the
human species.

As for me not responding to the argument about chance and Christianity, I
was under the impression that you understood the whole point of my original
essay (that began all these threads) was that it *was* a response to such an
argument. I did show how "God can guarantee that Adam or Moses will ever be
created, without "cheating" on the Darwinian mechanisms." You described my
demonstration as follows:

"God, as it were, walks into this corner store, inspects all of these
infinite number of universes (which being infinite, he can do), and takes
"Chance Universe #2,889,356,112" off the shelf, and actualizes that one.
Thus, from our perspective, within the universe, it looks as if everything
occurs by accident (working in conjunction with natural laws), but from the
cosmic perspective, God has actually selected exactly this particular set of
accidents."

Yes, and the reason why God took Chance Universe #2,889,356,112 off the
shelf is because it is the one, the only one, that has (and can have) us in
it. That Chance Universe was chosen because of us.

I thought we had some type of understanding, as while you expressed problems
with this perspective, you ended by saying, "I cannot prove that this
schizophrenic view of reality is wrong. But at a fundamental, existential
level, I simply reject it." I could address the "schizophrenic" aspects
that you dislike (perhaps later this summer, if you want), but right now, it
is sufficient for me to point out that unless you can prove this view to be
wrong, then you have not proven that Christianity and Darwinism cannot
co-exist.

Anyway, that's how I see it all. Thanks for the interesting exchange of
ideas.

-Mike

----- Original Message -----
From: "Cameron Wybrow" <wybrowc@sympatico.ca>
To: "asa" <asa@calvin.edu>
Sent: Friday, May 22, 2009 10:27 AM
Subject: Re: [asa] BioLogos - Bad Theology?

> 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 22:58:02 2009

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