Re: What do you mean by the "theory of evolution"? (was A

Stephen Jones (
Tue, 05 May 98 22:51:10 +0800


On Sun, 26 Apr 1998 23:27:47 -0400 (EDT), Lloyd Eby wrote:

>LE>...the supposed distinction...between "natural causation" and
>>>"supernatural causation" will not stand up to criticism and

>SJ>Disagree. Within theism, there are three logically distinct
>>1. Natural causation-God working normally through secondary
>>causation (eg. laws of nature);
>>2. Supernatural/Natural causation-God working supernaturally
>>through secondary causation (eg. Geisler's "second class
>>3. Supernatural causation-God working supernaturally through
>>primary causation (eg. ex nihilo creation of universe, etc.).

LE>Your discussion here presupposes that we know or can distinguish
>between natural and supernatural events.

Clearly we *can* (at least in some instances) "distinguish between natural
and supernatural events". The people who saw Jesus' miracles knew that
they were beyond natural causes, ie. supernatural:

"Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of
the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said,
"Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. FOR NO ONE
WITH HIM." (Jn 3:1-2. My emphasis)

Granted we may sometimes have difficulty distinguishing between first
and second class miracles, ie. between 3. and 2. above, and in some
cases between 1. and 2., but that does not mean there is no possible
distinction between them.

LE> (Notice that you use the terms "normally" and "supernaturally"
>in your definition-descriptions. In other words, your account is, I
>think, fatally circular.)

Disagree. I don't see what is necessarily "fatally circular" about
my definitions at all. Perhaps you could elaborate.

LE>Here's my point, stated briefly: Suppose you observe any event.
>How can you know whether it is natural or supernatural?

Granted that we may have difficulty in distinguishing some events,
whether they are "natural or supernatural". But not in all cases. The
disciples clearly were able to distinguish Jesus' miracles like turning
water into wine and being raised from the dead after crucifixion.

According to Jesus everyone on Earth will all one day see Him
"coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory." (Mt

Are you claiming that even then we will not be able to "know
whether it is natural or supernatural"?

LE>Clearly, saying that it must be supernatural because it does not
>conform to any known natural principle will not guarantee that it is
>supernatural, except by use of handwaving definitions of "natural"
>and "supernatural."

I agree that I cannot "guarantee" that an event is "supernatural",
but that is shifting of your argument. The non-theist cannot
"guarantee" that a theist's claimed supernatural event is natural,

LE>I think the supposed natural/supernatural divide will turn out, on
>deeper examination, to be as ephemeral or as impossible to sustain
>as, according to the account you summarize, demarcation between
>"scientific" and "non-scientific" has become.

Agree with the second but not the first. The real problem is
philosophical. I prefaced my remarks with: "Within theism, there
are three logically distinct categories...". Clearly, if one starts
with the assumption that there is no such thing as the
"supernatural", ie. metaphysical naturalism, then no amount of
evidence will suffice.

What is your position Lloyd? Are you a theist or a metaphysical

LE>(For myself, I'm not yet convinced that the demarcation problem
>is unsolvable or meaningless, although I do agree that it cannot be
>solved by positivistic or syntactical (i.e. Popperian) means.)

Fine. But this is just a faith-statement of what you are "not yet
convinced" of. When someone comes up with a a "demarcation between
`scientific' and `non-scientific'" that does not exclude things that
are normally regarded as "scientific" then we can discuss it!


Stephen E (Steve) Jones ,--_|\
3 Hawker Avenue / Oz \
Warwick 6024 ->*_,--\_/ Phone +61 8 9448 7439
Perth, West Australia v "Test everything." (1Thess 5:21)