Re: [asa] RE: TE and apologetics

From: Bill Powers <>
Date: Fri Sep 18 2009 - 09:00:46 EDT

I suggest that, historically at least, the motivation for the slippery
slope is associated with episteomology. When the warrant for belief is
positivistic, the slope towards a type of scientism is established. In
other words, when and if science (natural knowledge) becomes the
standards by which belief is justified, Fosdick's views and the like
will be inevitable. This view is exemplified in Weinberg's statement
that religion is the belief in faries.

IMO, we (meaning modern man) are not far from this view. Of course, this
is not the only threat to the Gospel. Post-modernism undermines this
slide toward scientism, but undermines Theism by its polytheistic
commitment, which is by far the more ancient threat. What this
demonstrates is the monotheistic foundation of science, and the threat
of any and all monotheisms, e.g., Marxism.

Can we say that 'accepting evolution' is strictly the (a) problem? No, I
suppose we can never say such things. It is likely not sufficient,
although it is likely necessary for the kind of slide into scientism.

The question would be for the Christian who wishes to prevent this slide
is how does one maintain a proper respect for science without it becoming
the warrant and justification for all belief?


On Fri, 18 Sep 2009,
Schwarzwald wrote:

> Heya Merv,
> I suspect that the problem does not strictly have to do with 'accepting
> evolution' so much as worldviews that sometimes, but don't always or
> necessarily, come with accepting evolution. For instance, if 'accepting
> evolution' means that a person believes evolution was just one more tool God
> uses and used in His creation, and that the events of natural history are in
> some ways guided and purposeful (a view which I think is not only
> reasonable, but has strong support), that's one thing. But many times it
> seems that 'accepting evolution' is a package deal where the concern isn't
> just with evolution, but evolution and the accompanying metaphysical view
> that the process is unguided, undirected, etc. YECs don't seem all that
> interested in recognizing or discussing alternatives to the latter, and
> frankly TEs rarely seem eager to do so either. There are some exceptions
> like Simon Conway Morris (and Jim Manzi recently wrote some interesting
> replies to Coyne along those lines), but by and large the message I get from
> TEs is "Evolution is compatible with Christianity. How? That's a question of
> metaphysics. I don't want to talk about that much at all, because the
> science is all that matters right now."
> And I agree, I was surprised to hear Billy Graham taking such a position -
> to say that's surprising and inspiring for me is an understatement.
> On Fri, Sep 18, 2009 at 6:51 AM, Merv Bitikofer <> wrote:
>> Thanks, John and Ted for the highly pertinent citations on these historical
>> landmarks (If I may call them such) of evangelical history. This post is
>> going into my "special" folder of posts to refer back to.
>> I do have a short response. Fosdick with his position as Ted describes it,
>> would seem to me to be a conundrum for many TEs on this list. He would seem
>> to be evidence that "what goes around is still coming around" and that TEs
>> who easily chide YECs for being afraid of any "slippery slope" are
>> themselves not at the bottom of it [yet?]. I.e. If most of us a generation
>> ago were more aligned with YEC convictions that we have now emerged from, is
>> there a continuing trajectory in this that has us continuing to "emerge" to
>> a point where, like Fosdick or now Borg and Jesus seminar folks, we are able
>> to let go of convictions regarding bodily resurrection and able to
>> "re-interpret" many central passages from gospels like John in ways that at
>> least some of us here still find to be heterodox. Yes -- I know that some
>> here have already gone down that path and that folks like Marcus Borg are
>> tremendously respected and associated views accepted --which highlights my
>> following conjecture: Aren't the suggestions of the recent Southern
>> Baptist University professor (I can't remember his name, but I believe John
>> Walley was mediating his participation on this list) --aren't his
>> predictions powerfully confirmed by all this? I.e. that those who accept
>> evolution will, within some span of time, be rejecting the bodily
>> resurrection. I think Billy Graham should be one powerful antidote or
>> counter-example for that suggestion (thanks, John). I realize that some on
>> this list who may be too modest to put themselves forward also may serve in
>> the same regard--thinking of you Ted, or George Murphy or Keith Miller.
>> But who has the more numerous or luminous examples as fodder for their
>> position here?
>> --Merv
>> Ted Davis wrote:
>>> John Walley <> 9/17/2009 1:53 PM >>> writes:
>>> Not so. BG was very outspoken on TE and a real conundrum for evangelicals
>>> who didn't know how to deal with him other than just trying to ignore hin.
>>> Below is just one of his many powerful quotes on it:
>>> "I don't think that there's any conflict at all between science today and
>>> the scriptures. I think that we have misinterpreted the Scriptures many
>>> times and we've tried to make the Scriptures say things they weren't meant
>>> to say, I think that we have made a mistake by thinking the Bible is a
>>> scientific book. The Bible is not a book of science. The Bible is a book of
>>> Redemption, and of course I accept the Creation story. I believe that God
>>> did create the universe. I believe that God created man, and whether it came
>>> by an evolutionary process and at a certain point He took this person or
>>> being and made him a living soul or not, does not change the fact that God
>>> did create man. ... whichever way God did it makes no difference as to what
>>> man is and man's relationship to God."Billy Graham: Personal Thoughts of a
>>> Public Man, 1997. p. 72-74
>>> ***
>>> Ted comments:
>>> Yes, a famous quotation. The final part of this quotation is remarkably
>>> like something that Harry Emerson Fosdick wrote in 1922, responding to
>>> William Jennings Bryan. Here is the passage I have in mind:
>>> "So long as God is the Creative Power, what difference does it make
>>> whether out of the dust by sudden fiat or out of the dust by gradual process
>>> God brought man into being. Here man is and what he is he is. Were it
>>> decided that God had dropped him from the sky, he still would be the man he
>>> is. If it is decided that God brought him up by slow gradations out of lower
>>> forms of life, he still is the man he is."
>>>> From EVOLUTION AND MR. BRYAN, a pamphlet reprinting an op-ed piece he
>>> wrote for the NY Times. Fosdick was of course far more liberal,
>>> theologically, than Billy Graham. He didn't believe in the virgin birth,
>>> the incarnation, or the bodily resurrection. He did believe in sin and
>>> redemption, however, though redemption came by following the godly example
>>> of Jesus and not by his shed blood. The 9 word sentence, "Here man is and
>>> what he is he is," is classic Fosdickian, if that's even a word. Fosdick
>>> was an immensely practical theologian, greatly admired in his day and with
>>> an enormous popular following -- he had one of the first national radio
>>> programs, "National Vespers," which my father's family heard regularly. The
>>> late Martin Luther King, Jr., regarded Fosdick as the greatest preacher he'd
>>> ever heard. I'm really struck, now that I read it again here on the list,
>>> how closely Graham sounded like Fosdick, in this particular instance.
>>> Perhaps there's something deeper h!
>> ere!
>>> , about why both men have been so popular with Americans.
>>> Ted
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Received on Fri Sep 18 09:01:33 2009

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