RE: [asa] RE: (fall-away) TE and apologetics

From: Jon Tandy <tandyland@earthlink.net>
Date: Tue Sep 22 2009 - 11:06:21 EDT

Bernie,

 

I believe this is quite a logical fallacy, or maybe a combination of them.
Let's take it first like this: what difference would there be between the
following two cases:

 

1. God creates the human soul (at the beginning of creation, or at the
creation of the individual, it doesn't matter) and implants it into a human
body at conception (or at birth, or sometime in between).

 

2. The human soul is actually a consciousness of identity and self-ness that
comes into existence through a process of natural development.

 

The fact that you don't see a reason to call human consciousness a "soul"
because it's emergent is a non-sequitur. Would you also say that you don't
have a body, because it came about through an emergent process? And by what
means do you have to judge that it's not "spiritual", simply because your
conception is that it came about through an emergent process? Was that a
scientific determination that it's not "spiritual", and if so by what tools
do you measure it to be non-spiritual?

 

And by what criteria do you conclude that this emergent "soulish
consciousness" cannot inherit eternal life? Do you recall from geometry
what a "ray" is? It is a line that starts at a finite point and goes off to
infinity. In both my cases above, there is a human soul (or similar
characteristic) that is created at some moment in time, but which we as
Christians believe has the potential of enduring into eternity. For this
very basic and simplified view of the soul, it doesn't matter how that soul
came into existence – it is still a creation of God that has an eternal
destiny. So your characterization of an emergent human consciousness = no
soul = no afterlife falters, I believe, on at least two points.

 

The red herrings of supposed difficulties with a spiritual "soul" are really
non-issues. I'll just mention one. I suggested above that God "implants a
soul into a human body at conception" etc. Or maybe in the case of twins He
implants two souls into two human bodies – there is nothing wrong with this
idea theologically, nor anything in the Bible to definitively speak directly
to the question. To think that this poses a difficulty for Christian
believe is na´ve, I'm sorry to say. Likewise with the question of toddlers
and the senile.

 

If someone was looking for reasons to doubt Christian belief, there are
certainly plenty of potentially serious challenges to faith, but this one
isn't as far as I can see.

 

Sincerely,

 

Jon Tandy

 

From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On
Behalf Of Dehler, Bernie
Sent: Monday, September 21, 2009 11:49 AM
Cc: asa
Subject: RE: [asa] RE: (fall-away) TE and apologetics

 

I think my latest awareness came at the last ASA conference with the
discussions about the “mind/body” problem. I’ve come to see the
‘conscience’ as something complex that emerges from the brain. Christians
would call it a ‘soul’ by I see no reason to attach a spiritual entity to
it. In Christian theology, the idea of a soul introduces many unanswered
questions-

 

What are toddlers or senile people are like in heaven (eternally toddler or
eternally senile?).

 

If souls given at conception: how are souls given to identical twins (one
egg/sperm splits off into two kids after some time) and chimeras (two
fertilized eggs grow then at some point combine tomake one person) at
birth? Also, Siamese twins?

 

Seeing the conscious as just emergence (and dissipation in old age) from the
brain resolves all these questions.

 

No soul -> no afterlife -> no resurrection -> no work of Christ on the
cross.

 

...Bernie

 

  _____

From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On
Behalf Of John Walley
Sent: Sunday, September 20, 2009 5:39 PM
To: Mark Whorton
Cc: asa
Subject: Re: [asa] RE: (fall-away) TE and apologetics

 

Mark,

 

I contend that the importance of the theological component of your RTB to TE
journey was directly proportional to your investment in it beforehand. It
was the same with going from YEC to RTB. The more you were bought in to all
the arguments for the age of the earth, the more you had to unlearn before
you could go forward. Inerrancy is the perfect theological example. I was
never totally sold on that for lots of reasons but maily because it just
never seemed to make any sense to me even though I tried hard to believe it
to be a good Christian but just never really could.

 

Also, I had only heard of the YEC party line but was never really bought
into it so it was much easier for me to let it all go with no serious
emotional toll on me. Likewise the same with theology. So I contend there is
an advantage to not making an irrevocable commitment if you can't really be
sure about it. It just never was that important to me or that essential.
This again was providential revelation at least in my case.

 

John

 

  _____

From: Mark Whorton <mark.whorton@yahoo.com>
To: gmurphy10@neo.rr.com; John Burgeson (ASA member)
<hossradbourne@gmail.com>; John Walley <john_walley@yahoo.com>; "Dehler,
Bernie" <bernie.dehler@intel.com>
Cc: asa <asa@calvin.edu>
Sent: Sunday, September 20, 2009 7:51:42 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] RE: (fall-away) TE and apologetics

Pardon me for inserting myself in mid stream, but I completely agree with
George. In my evolution from YEC to progressive creation, I had to make the
transition in the context of a biblical worldview. I had to work out the
relevant theological issues systematically. Likewise as I was forced into
TE by the strength of the evidence and the insufferable insistence of John
Walley ;-), I had to have another paradigm evolution based on systematic
theology. What I am saying is this -- a Christian must integrate what they
believe about the world with what they believe to be true about God and His
nature. For me this meant that as a Southern Baptist I had to jettison the
doctrine of inerrancy as taught in our Sunday School classes in light of a
better understanding of what is meant by the authority and inspiration of
Scripture. Pure and simple, that is theology. It did not mean that
"theology is incorrect" by any means. It meant that I had to integrate the
science and my understanding (slight but hopefully growing) understanding of
God's self-revelation into an evolving systematic theology.

Pardon me for being so focused on my story, but I think it illustrates the
evolution that must take place in a Christian who is actively seeking to
learn and grow. Hopefully by God's grace I am making slow progress in that
direction.

Mark Whorton

 

  _____

From: "gmurphy10@neo.rr.com" <gmurphy10@neo.rr.com>
To: John Burgeson (ASA member) <hossradbourne@gmail.com>; John Walley
<john_walley@yahoo.com>; "Dehler, Bernie" <bernie.dehler@intel.com>
Cc: asa <asa@calvin.edu>; mark.whorton@yahoo.com
Sent: Sunday, September 20, 2009 12:06:11 AM
Subject: Re: [asa] RE: (fall-away) TE and apologetics

Of course I meant dismissal of theology in general, not of particular
theologies. & of course there are bad as well as good theologies. But if
theology is the practice of faith in search of understanding - or simply
thinking about what one believes & its implications - then dismissal of
theology in general is by definition anti-intellectual.

Since the Christian message involves claims about God's relationship with
the real world, any theology that conflicts with what is known to be true
about the world is defective, the seriousness of the conflict determining
the degree of defect. On that count any theology that insists that the
world is young or that evolution hasn't occurred is defective.

In fact, what you've been doing in trying to make sense of your faith when
you take evolution seriously is precisely theology. It's important though
to have some guidance in such an enterprise, & the theological tradition can
help with that (though it's not infallible). & part of the process is
separating the wheat from the chaff.

C.S. Lewis described a talk on theology he'd given to some men in the RAF,
after which one man stood up and said that all that armchair stuff was all
very well for intellectuals but that he'd known the presence of God when he
was out in the desert at night without any of that formal theology. (It's
been awhile since I read this so I may not have the details right but that's
the gist of it.) Lewis replied that he had no doubt that the man had had
such experiences. But how far would they take a person? It's a bit like
what you need if you're going to sail the Atlantic from Europe to America,
he said. Of course nautical charts wouldn't give you any sense of what it
would be like to be out on the ocean in a boat. But feelings wouldn't get
you from Portsmouth to New York and a nautical chart could.

Shalom,
George

---- John Walley <john_walley@yahoo.com> wrote:
> > Any dismissal of theology amounts to an endorsement of an
anti-intellectual "spirituality."

George, my only response to this is that from my laymen's perspective, I
look around and see that the theology that I have been exposed to, at least
in the evangelical church, amounts to primarily YEC and maybe PC, with a
sprinkling of ID thrown in, but all united in bashing evolution and science.
I don't have a lot of confidence in the usefulness of of at least that
theology seeing what a bang up job it did for them and the resulting stellar
influence they have on intellectuals in our culture. I had to divorce myself
from all of it to find truth on my own in TE through my own studies and here
on the ASA list, with little help from theology. If that is
anti-intellectual "spirituality" then I am guilty as charged.

But in contrast, my friend Richard Howe and his brother, both PhD seminary
professors and one fluent in Hebrew, both well read and educated in theology
and quite proud of their particular brand of it and at the top of the heap
in evangelicalism, but militant YECs to the core, are they the fruits of
studying theology and the exemplar representatives of it you are referring
to? I don't think so.

I don't think theology is the secret formula to truth or a pre or post
requisite, I think it is "spiritual" discernment which is in turn the result
of revelation. That is what Peter had and all the first century Christians.
Anti-intellectual, maybe, but I contend it has served me better than
theology has compared to most of the people I have met.

John

----- Original Message ----
From: "gmurphy10@neo.rr.com" <gmurphy10@neo.rr.com>
To: John Burgeson (ASA member) <hossradbourne@gmail.com>; John Walley
<john_walley@yahoo.com>; "Dehler, Bernie" <bernie.dehler@intel.com>
Cc: asa <asa@calvin.edu>
Sent: Friday, September 18, 2009 10:20:59 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] RE: (fall-away) TE and apologetics

Granted that our theologies are at best imperfect & may even be
"impertinent." But theology is essentilally an attempt to understand what
we believe and its implications. We are, after all, to love God with all
our mind as well as heart, soul & strength. Any dismissal of theology
amounts to an endorsement of an anti-intellectual "spirituality."

Shalom,
George

---- John Walley <john_walley@yahoo.com> wrote:
> Wow. I really like the SDG and JofA and quotes below. I agree that is what
our faith has to be based on, our own personal experiential revelation.
Everything else is sinking sand. That is the example Jesus gave us in the NT
as well. When Jesus challenged Peter, he confirmed his response by saying
that "flesh and blood has not revealed this to you". So I contend it has to
be today as well. This is consistent with Burgy's comment below. I am
intentionally and blissfully ignorant of most of the infinite man-made
theologies referenced below, and I don't think I am missing much. It is much
more important to be like Peter (and JofA) and recognize God's revelation
when you experience it.
>
> I also agree the secret is not to get hung up on #5.
>
> John
>
>
>
>
>
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: John Burgeson (ASA member) <hossradbourne@gmail.com>
> To: "Dehler, Bernie" <bernie.dehler@intel.com>
> Cc: asa <asa@calvin.edu>
> Sent: Friday, September 18, 2009 4:25:41 PM
> Subject: Re: [asa] RE: (fall-away) TE and apologetics
>
> If I understand you, Bernie, you went through these steps:
>
> 1 The Bible is inerrant.
> 2 Some of the scientific atatements in the Bible are incorrect.
> 3 Some of the biblical statements about history are incorrect
> 4 Therefore the Bible is not inerrant.
> 5 Therefore the theology (as you understand it) in the Bible must also
> be incorrect.
> 6 Therefore it is not possible(intellectually) to be a Christian.
>
> Do I have it about right?
>
> I went through points 1-4 myself, some years ago. I did not hang up on
> #5 because I had studied enough that I recognized that "theologies"
> are man-made, not God-made, and that there are almost an infinite
> number of theologies that one can construct from the Bible.
>
> Theology, to me, is terribly interesting, but not terribly important.
> One of the most incisive comment I have encountered about this issue
> was penned by Nathanial Hawthorne. . "So long as an unlettered soul
> can attain
> to saving grace there would seem to be no deadly error in holding
> theological libraries to be accumulations of, for the most part,
> stupendous impertinence. -- Hawthorne (Preface to Twice-told Tales)
>
> Another quotation:
>
> I do not place my faith in writings, nor in creeds, nor in the
> statements of scholars and philosophers, but in the living and present
> Christ, infinitely beyond any human expression. Soli Deo Gloria
> (author unknown)
>
> "God" is just our name for the devine infinite. It does not define Him.
>
> Joan of Arc, when asked by the bishops "Do you not believe that what
> you call your voice from God is really nothing more than your
> imagination?" To this she replied, "Of course it is my imagination.
> How else does God speak to us?"
>
> Cheers
>
> Burgy
>
>
> --
> Burgy
>
> www.burgy.50megs.com <http://www.burgy.50megs.com/>
>
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Received on Tue Sep 22 11:07:17 2009

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