Re: [asa] Olasky on Collins

From: George Murphy <GMURPHY10@neo.rr.com>
Date: Wed Aug 26 2009 - 19:10:35 EDT

A more significant argument that he could make is that the story of Adam &
Eve is closely involved with the central claims of Christianity about the
person & work of Christ & the arrangement of the sun & planets isn't. But
then he'd be recognizing that the basic theological criterion has to do with
relevance to the gospel rather than the inerrancy of a book. (That argument
still doesn't work to rule out evolution but at least it would be a
substantive theological argument.)

Shalom
George
http://home.roadrunner.com/~scitheologyglm

----- Original Message -----
From: "John Walley" <john_walley@yahoo.com>
To: "Ted Davis" <TDavis@messiah.edu>; <asa@calvin.edu>; "Randy Isaac"
<randyisaac@comcast.net>
Sent: Wednesday, August 26, 2009 6:10 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Olasky on Collins

> Actually I don't find this distinction that he raises original at all. For
> those of us that travel in evangelical circles and debate guys like
> Richard frequently, we hear it all the time. In fact, I think it is
> commonplace in the ID literature. Its validity and relevance is limited to
> being an example of how and when reigning science can be wrong, but that
> is pointless since I think we all know that "science" until the
> enlightenment was not only wrong but mostly non-existent except for some
> mathematical, natural and astronomical observations.
>
> Further it sidesteps the more important point IMO that he freely concedes
> of the precedent of the Bible being interpreted wrongly, and what that
> means to his hallowed hermeneutics, even though Luther had the same proof
> text argument then as much as YEC's and PC's have today. This also raises
> the inerrancy specter then since the text clearly says the sun stopped in
> the sky. This in my opinion is a dodge that we shouldn't let him get away
> with.
>
> Thanks
>
> John
>
>
>
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: Ted Davis <TDavis@messiah.edu>
> To: asa@calvin.edu; Randy Isaac <randyisaac@comcast.net>
> Sent: Wednesday, August 26, 2009 3:22:12 PM
> Subject: Re: [asa] Olasky on Collins
>
> Richard,
>
> Your post (to Randy) is thoughtful, engaging, and on topic for this list
> of
> Christian scientists and science junkies (I am the latter).
>
> We need more contributions of this type, IMO.
>
> I will comment on selected statements, as follows:
>
> R Howe: But I will offer this for your consideration: when the church
> seemingly was so intransigent in its views of the Earth being the center
> of
> the Solar System vis--vis Galileo's view, the church was holding on to
> its
> position not only because of what they (wrongly) thought the Bible taught,
> but more so because geocentricism was the reigning "scientific" view of
> the
> university astronomers of the day. The view was grounded in the cosmology
> of
> Aristotle. Galileo was not accepted until several centuries later when his
> findings were confirmed by the mathematics. Thus, such a resistance on the
> part of the church then is not parallel to the current debate between the
> creationists and the evolutionists.
>
> Ted: This is a very interesting point, and original as well. I cannot
> recall hearing it before, even though so much has been said about Galileo,
> vis-a-vis contemporary views on origins. I would say, however, that the
> more important point is whether physical truth was closer to Galileo and
> the
> evolutionists (on the one hand), or to their opponents. Universities in
> the
> 17th century were actually very slow to respond to the new knowledge being
> created both within their walls (by people like Galileo and Newton) or
> outside their walls (by people like Kepler and Boyle). Newton learned
> about
> Descartes, e.g., by buying his books in town rather than by studying him
> in
> the curriculum. Today, it's universities that are the main locus of
> knowledge creation; this was less true at that point. Also, things move so
> fast generally today, but much more slowly generally then.
>
> ***
>
> R Howe: The creationist's intransigence is the opposite of the churches
> opposition to Galileo since creationism is not the reigning view of the
> universities of our day. I bring this up because it usually isn't long in
> the discussion before this hackneyed point about the church's resistance
> to
> Galileo is raised (not by you necessarily). If anything, it is the
> Christians today who are evolutionists that seem to parallel the
> Christians
> who were geocentricists in Galileo's day. I say this, not to parallel
> geocentricism with evolution, but to parallel which side of a given debate
> the church (Christians) was on. The church then sided with the reigning
> "scientific" view of the universities (geocentricism) and the church today
> (read evangelicals) are siding against the reigning "scientific" view of
> the
> universities (evolution). This in itself does not adjudicate the debate,
> but
> it is an important antidote to the view that somehow the creationist
> should
> take a lesson from history. I'll grant that the Christians have held views
> about the physical universe that are wrong to the degree that others will
> grant that science has held views about the physical universe that are
> wrong.
>
> Ted: Most historians, me included, are ambivalent about drawing "lessons"
> from history, since in so many cases those "lessons" can be made only by
> taking certain facts out of their proper historical context -- and context
> does give meaning to facts in historical disciplines. However, we can
> safely say that a large number of Christian thinkers subsequent to Galileo
> -- esp natural historians in the early and mid-19th century -- were quick
> to
> invoke Galileo's heresy trial as a "lesson" for opponents in their own
> time(s). Above all, they used it to distance themselves, and to shame
> their
> opponents into distancing themselves, from the obscurantism that they saw
> to
> be one of the fundamental characteristics of the church's stance vs
> heliocentrism. (It wasn't nearly as obscurantist as they made it out to
> be.) They were Protestants, after all (those I speak about here), not
> Catholics; mainly Protestant audiences in the US and the UK could be
> counted
> on to buy into this rhetoric and embrace an appropriate measure of
> humility
> concerning alleged scientific facts and theories in the Bible. That
> "lesson" may be based on distorted history, but (ironically) it remains a
> good lesson, IMO. Roberto Cardinal Bellarmine was a strict biblical
> literalist, who held that anyone who questions the Bible on the earth's
> motion might just as well question the Bible on the Virgin Birth. A pretty
> flat reading of things, I would say -- would you agree with me, Richard?
>
> ***
>
> R Howe:
>
> I must now bring my musings to a close. Before I do, however, (and at the
> risk of being misunderstood due to my brevity) I would suggest that our
> principles of interpretation must come from reality. Now someone might
> jump
> on this and say "That's what we're trying to get those creationists to
> understand!" But by this I don't mean something so simple and perhaps, at
> times, nave as "science." I concur with your sentiment that "bearing the
> image of God and his commission of stewardship of his creation, we have
> been
> given the power to observe God's works in nature." Whether this tracks
> what
> scientists are saying regarding evolution is part of the debate. I suggest
> that much of what goes on in the name of scientific discourse has a
> tremendous philosophical foundation to it (or at times a tremendous
> philosophical bankruptcy to it). Again, by this I don't merely mean
> something as simple as the presuppositions of naturalism (though I do
> include this). Instead, I am talking about broader issues in metaphysics
> and
> epistemology. These issues, coupled with the resultant theology from these
> philosophical commitments (and other considerations), have led me to
> embrace
> a number of doctrines that I believe are incompatible with certain
> evolutionary positions. While I will grant to another the prerogative of
> holding whatever views he wishes, what I resist is the notion that one can
> hold such views and still consider himself theologically an evangelical
> Christian. I am not surprised or startled by what liberal or neo-orthodox
> (or, for that matter, postmodern) Christians believe. But no liberal or
> neo-orthodox would consider himself an evangelical. I believe that with
> certain moves toward a more Darwinian view of the history of the Earth,
> such
> a move requires a move away from a certain view of the nature of the Bible
> as God's special revelation (and, I might add, from certain sound
> principles
> of hermeneutics). One side or the other might be wrong. But they both
> can't
> be right.
>
> Ted: I think that evolution (understood here simply as common descent,
> ignoring the matter of mechanisms said to be responsible for producing it)
> raises hard problems for evangelical theology and Biblical interpretation.
> I talked about some of them at
> http://evanevodialogue.blogspot.com/2008/06/evangelicals-evolution-and-academics.html
>
>
> Through the ASA and in other ways, Richard, I have met a large number of
> Christian scientists who want to think of themselves as evangelicals, not
> simply b/c their faith journey has been mainly or entirely evangelical;
> they
> want to continue to embrace an evangelical understanding for various
> reasons. Many of those scientists believe that evolution (in the sense
> defined above) is true, for various reasons, perhaps above all b/c of what
> we have learned about genetics. (Francis Collins summarizes some of this
> information in his book, "The Language of God.") In short, it really looks
> to the experts like humans and other modern primates have common
> ancestors;
> evolution appears to be true, from the evidence. No other explanation of
> the same evidence makes nearly as much sense.
>
> Whether it's possible to put together the truths of science (if that is
> what they are) and the truths of evangelical Christianity, is IMO
> presently
> an open question. If you come down on it differently than I do, it would
> be
> unfair and uncharitable to say that it must reflect some stupidity or
> irrationality on your part (or on mine). It could well be a matter of
> genuine ignorance, either way -- we are all ignorant of so many things,
> aren't we? Or, it could be as you suggest a matter of certain
> epistemological and theological commitments. For my part, as someone who
> has found the genetic evidence convincing, I hope that the historic
> evangelical commitment to the general validity of natural revelation (when
> rightly interpreted) will overcome the historic evangelical commitment to
> separate creation. Those who don't agree with me about how to interpret
> general revelation in this case may well parse that differently.
>
> Ted
>
>
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Received on Wed Aug 26 19:11:15 2009

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