18 August 2010

Doxology of the Scientific Method

by Frank Turk

Well, last week pinch-hitting for Phil, I said this:
It is simply irrefutable that the BioLogos project is deeply entrenched in obliterating what's described in my fifth point, and in engaging in activities covered by my fourth point. This is their chief aim -- as it is the aim of every cult, post-orthodoxy, which finds itself wanting to appease some other authority apart from or above Scripture. This assertion requires more than just saying it is so. Look for my exposition of this in the near future.
And here we are, a week later, so let's begin.

One of the very helpful things about the BioLogos site is that it is well-constructed. You know: it's easy to find what you're looking for, and also to identify what they think is their most important stuff. For example, you can find right at the top of their site a navigation bar with the tab "The Questions" clearly labelled.


It's quite a list of questions -- good questions as they say. And it's good, for example, that they don't exactly eliminate the the possibility of miracles. In fact, I rather like it that they call miracles "rare" because, of course, this is PyroManiacs and we are what we are.

The problem is that by "rare", they don't mean what common cessationists mean by "rare": they actually mean, "even some of what the Bible identifies as acts of God are probably not actually 'miracles' but are in fact acts which science can explain better than the writers of the books in the Bible."

Before I go there, let's step back a second. I used strong words last week to underscore my exit from Evangel over this issue, and I stand by all of it. I will in fact be spending most of the rest of this year spelling out what I mean by it all by demonstrating it from the BioLogos site -- an activity which will not convert one soul to the Gospel and in that respect be an almost-useless activity from an evangelistic standpoint. But while the saving of the lost is a critical issue, protecting the saved is another, and that's the goal here.

But to do that properly, it's right to treat the statements of BioLogos' contributors fairly -- so while I'm convinced they're headed down the wide and easy road, they do say some things worth considering and putting into the virtual library for our own education.

So for example, you can find this on the page answering the question, "Can scientific and scriptural truth be reconciled?"
Truth is an increasingly complex notion. Postmodern epistemology challenges the very possibility of even obtaining truth, with some philosophers going so far as to say that there is no such thing as truth to be obtained. Very few scientists, however, accept this pessimistic view. Their experience with the regularity of the laws of nature, and the remarkable predictability of natural phenomena on the basis of these laws, has instilled in them a deep intuition that the truth is out there. A truly postmodern scientist is very hard to find.

BioLogos affirms that truth is indeed something that can be discovered, but acknowledges that human desires and limitations must always be taken into consideration when evaluating particular truth claims. BioLogos also contends that many of the recent pessimistic views of truth are contrived and inconsistent with human experience. Most human beings have enough confidence in the scientific truth to fly in planes or have surgeries. [ephasis added]
The last sentence is especially droll and instructive as this is the ultimate argument against post-modern skepticism: nobody walks around as if they are the only measure of truth when they actually need something from someone else. Nobody.

The problem is foreshadowed, though, in the underlined parts of the intro statement -- and notice it: scientists aren't postmodern because of their experience.

Just mull that over for a minute before I go on. I'l wait here.



Let's assume for a second that they were simply trying to write what they meant there in popular rather than technical terms, so the implications of experience being the measure of value and truth are actually accidental and not intentional or philosophical.

Here's where they end up in this essay -- and honestly, it's amazing:
Science: Intrinsic Error and Built-In Self Correction

Error is intrinsic to all human activity, including science; human technology is imperfect; and human comprehension is incomplete. All these factors contribute to a limited understanding of ultimate, absolute truth.

Nonetheless, science is self correcting. Scientific findings are constantly tested, updated and peer reviewed. Inaccuracies are corrected when new discoveries and experiments bring the truth to light more fully. This does not mean that the truth has changed. Rather the tools used to find the truth revealed their limitations due to flawed technology, inadequate understanding or misinterpretation of data. As these tools improve, science leads us closer and closer to the truth.

Building scientific theories resembles map making. A map gathers different kinds of data like longitude and latitude, elevations, waterways and climate to make a coherent representation of reality. The map is not reality itself but a model of reality. Scientific maps of reality, known as theories, need updating in response to new discoveries or improved understanding.

Selfish motivations and scientific error can also play a role in scientific discovery. Self-promoting individuals can push for outcomes that advance their reputation. A desire for particular results or an assumption about the ways things are can result in manipulation of data, whether consciously or unconsciously. Unfortunately, there have been plenty of examples of such contrived data in the history of science. One chronicle of how such distortions were perpetuated can be found in Steven Jay Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man, which retells the tragic story of how 19th century science found alleged data to support prevailing prejudices about the relationship between race and intelligence.

While the scientific method standardizes and minimizes the bias and prejudice of an experimenter, random error is intrinsic to instruments of all measurements. No scientific experiment is exactly precise, and error must always be considered. The imperfections of humans and their methods means that scientific conclusions will never be perfect, but they will certainly improve with time as science advances continue to self correct. Although such critiques and qualifications of the veracity of science are important to consider, we must not let them blind us to the enormous successes of science in uncovering the patterns of nature. [emph added]
Now, this is again a seemingly-reasonable view of science, right? The scientific method, replication of results, elimination of bias and so on -- all very Modern in the Enlightenment sense to be sure. But I find two pieces of this puzzle troubling:

1. Notice that science has a self-correcting mechanism which is not actually above science epistemologically, but is intrinsic to science specifically because of its method. Let me say frankly that this is what encouraged me to call BioLogos a cult last week: the plain exclamation from them that, while they may be wrong in some way, their human method is how they will be corrected into standards that will improve in such a way that they produce "enormous success". While I concede that I'm pleased with the combustion engine and Lipitor and air conditioning -- huge wins against the natural world to be sure -- this is first of all a post-modern definition of science as it relies on the validity of experience rather than the nature of objective reality, and also seeing epistemology as answering the question, "does it work?"; second of all, it's also somewhat self-involved (big surprise from postmodernism) because it believes that the only real opportunity in these investigations is to succeed.

2. Because it is inherently a naturalistic view of science (that is, it plainly expresses that all causes can be the subject of scientific discovery -- even if there are other explanations for causes), it sells the Bible short.

Here's what it says about the Bible before it gets to the doxology of the Scientific Method:
Borrowing an example from the Rev. John Polkinghorne, there is more than one answer to the question of why the water in a tea kettle boils. The scientific answer might be because the burning gas heats the water. Another acceptable, though nonscientific, answer could be that the water is boiling because I want to make a cup of tea. Both of these answers are true, and both accurately describe the boiling water from different perspectives. The kinds of answers found in the scriptures are generally nonscientific but are always true.

This is not to say the Bible lacks historical, objective or scientific truth. For example, the Bible reports the existence of the Christmas star, and science offers a possible explanation for the star’s origin. The resurrection of Jesus is another example where the Bible is not limited to giving an explanation of why something happened, but it also makes a clear statement about the historical truth of what happened. [emph added]
Well, thank heavens that the Bible has some kind of historical truth to it -- but notice the stratification of truth: the scientific reason for why water boils is plainly a primary reference for the matter, and the need for the boiler of water for his tea is "another acceptable" answer.

And also notice: we can believe the historicity of the birth of Jesus because science has generously explained the Star at His birth. The need to believe that this star was the fulfillment of prophecy, and caused pagan astrologers to come and worship the King of the Jews, may be "another acceptable" explanation, but we're not told that. We'll see how these fellows approach the virgin birth when they get to it -- because for heaven's sake, there are causes for such things.

So my first volley here at those championed by Christopher Benson is this: after we look at the affirmations they provide to answer the question, "Can scientific and scriptural truth be reconciled?" the substance of their answer is clear -- science is the basis for substantiating scripture, and we're grateful that the self-correcting nature of science will improve our grasp of what God has said and done.

More next week. Be with Jesus' people in Jesus household on His day this week, and leave your test tubes and oscilloscopes at home. But drive safely.







143 comments:

Jacob said...

I look forward to the rest of this body of work, Frank! It is indeed important.

Robert said...

I find it sad that people have twisted science from discovering more about the handiwork of God into the validation of the work of God. I am constantly amazed when I see how things work in such a complex fashion...this world and universe works in such an orderly manner and I just see the glory of God in all of it.

I'm an engineer in the oil and gas industry, and we depend upon things working the way that they do. We have formulae and simulations to model what happens in reality, but we can't explain why things work the way they do through science. The answer is because God created it that way. Science doesn't prove that God exists and it doesn't define how He works. It just gives us a glimpse at the work of His hands. And what a wondrous work it is!

Merlin said...

I'm just adding myself loosely to Robert's group so that he does not take shots alone. I work in a science based field and depend upon partial truths uncovered by the scientific method. I have enjoyed reading this debate over the past month as it ping pongs from blog to blog.

My own observations of the scientific method are that in it's pure state, it should not care to prove or disprove a proposition. Unfortunately, this is not how it is used in many cases. The history of science is littered with examples of the poor use of these human tools.

The main problem with the scientific method is simply this. All propositions or hypotheses must begin from the mind of a human. They must attempt to describe and predict something. Then a test has to be designed that measures nature in some manner that tests the hypothesis. Therefore, both the proposition and the hypothesis are designed by the same person or group of persons.

The self correcting nature of science is only part of the problem though. The inductive logic that is intrinsic to science, the theories that attempt to lump all these hypotheses together to actually explain these things are by their very nature, poor logical constructs. If A then B; if B then C; if A, B and C then all letters are orange.

The manner in which science uses data and error is particularly alarming. The "accepted" range of data fits into a bell curve with outliers on both ends of a linear data set. Statistical significance is defined by mathematical gymnastics as an "probability of error" of less than 0.05 or 5%. When applications and practices fall outside of this known error at a frequency greater than that which is predicted, first scientists will throw rocks at that person, institution or group that is on the outside before questioning their supposition. The burden of proof is on the outlier, not necessarily on the theory or "truth."

What this all amounts to is a lack of authority. Any scientific authority is by definition a part of the system itself. The proper role for science, as Robert points out, is the human attempt to describe the wonders of God's creation and understand them to the best of our ability. What is unique about this particular discussion is that here is an area where science is attempting to justify and corroborate Biblical claims that seem to run afoul of "accepted" science.

My issues are two. Can you blame the scientists among us for attempting to reconcile our faith with our career paths? If we fail to do so, either our careers or our faith is a sham. The goal of sites like Biologos, in my view, perhaps not theirs and certainly not Frank's, is to attempt to bring other scientists to Christ. Their audience is really other scientists. By putting them on the defensive over authority, the area where they should admit they have no solid ground, you undermine their efforts in evangelizing the scientific community.

Given that authority is the issue, what Biblical constraints exist over man's attempt to understand God and God's creation?

*runs for cover*

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Before I go there, let's step back a second. I used strong words last week to underscore my exit from Evangel over this issue, and I stand by all of it."

Since Biologos's theistic evolution is severe error, strong words are merited and mandated.

Naturally, your strong words resulted in strong words being used against you. But that goes with the territory. Good on you for holding your ground.

"So my first volley here at those championed by Christopher Benson is this"

FWIW, Christopher Benson is no longer on the masthead of Evangel. It looks like he has moved on.

P.S. When you were excerpting the Biologos critique of postmodernism, I couldn't help but remember that Christopher Benson champions a critical appreciation for Postmodernism. It's interesting that he also champions Biologos.

donsands said...

"The resurrection of Jesus is another example where the Bible is not limited to giving an explanation of why something happened, but it also makes a clear statement about the historical truth of what happened."

So, they are saying that Jesus Christ died, and rose from the dead. They believe this, right? It actually and truly did take place in their thinking, and proclamation?

Frank Turk said...

And interesting development: Evangel has rebooted, and has eliminated a bunch of contributors from the masthead.

Frank Turk said...

Don:

yes. So far.

DJP said...

Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, and Jehovah's Witnesses are also (and equally) all self-correcting.

David said...

I'm just about to watch the sun come out of its tent like a bridegroom and rejoice to run its course like a strong man.

The current state of science is inherently reductionistic. It sees the ball of gas, but not the rejoicing.

But then, the church is pretty reductionistic these days, too.

I'm pretty sure that repentance has to start with the church.

Robert said...

DJP,

yeah...all depends on who the pope is for the Catholics, the "prophet" is for Mormons, and the "governing body" is for the Jehovah's Witnesses. Of course, those positions in the church age are all defined in the Bible, right? Oh, wait, they aren't? Then they are just as arbitrary as "science" and are governed by the thoughts of man...which is reflected in the changes we see in such churches to match the ideals of society.

DJP said...

As one reads in the Rubaiyat:
Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great argument
About it and about: but evermore
Came out by the same door wherein I went.

Everyday Mommy said...

Eager to read more, Frank.

Eric said...

Merlin, you said: "The goal of sites like Biologos, in my view, perhaps not theirs and certainly not Frank's, is to attempt to bring other scientists to Christ."

How do you reach this conclusion, and how do you suppose people are best brought to Christ? Does the Biologos site in fact buttress the reliability of the Bible in all of its claims (including claims directly related to the gospel), or alternatively undermine the reliability of the Bible? If you believe that the Biologos site buttresses the reliability of the Bible, can you explain how you come to that conclusion?

Also, how can you say that you believe their goal to be evangelism when you simultaneously admit that they may not view it that way?

Jeremiah Halstead said...

As an aside, there is a rather fascinating video on the Christmas star being an alignment of stars or what not that appears to be quite sticking to the naked eye. If one wanted to, they could see that God did indeed have the exact date a time set when he created the universe. I'm not quite sure how that explanation would diminish the works of God, so if you care to comment. I know this is slightly off the beaten path of this post but related.

Merlin said...

Eric,
First, perhaps I should have written "should be to" instead of "is." I am clearly not as skilled at nit picking words as many on the blogosphere.

Second, apologetics is not the purpose of this discussion and I wouldn't have myself banned for being off topic. But here is a point to consider. When starting to persuade a group with the conviction that your authority is over theirs, is that the best place to engage them? Might it be useful to enter into a discussion on their level, in their language, to bring them toward that big moment when you implode their world view? Many would have us say to use only the Word to teach the Word. Others would say that you have to have an audience willing to listen first. Not all ears hear the same. In order to allow the Word a chance to work, it must first be heard.

I understand that authority is the issue of this discussion. I knew that I would take flack. Please understand that Frank specifically stated the purpose of this post was not to evangelize, but to protect the saved. I am one to whom he is writing directly. Understanding that "fact", please be persuading. I am not equipped to defend well either position. But I am well equipped to identify myself as exactly the target audience of this discussion as defined by Frank in his post.

Steve Drake said...

Merlin,
Merlin said:
"The goal of sites like Biologos, in my view, perhaps not theirs and certainly not Frank's, is to attempt to bring other scientists to Christ. Their audience is really other scientists. By putting them on the defensive over authority, the area where they should admit they have no solid ground, you undermine their efforts in evangelizing the scientific community."

Steve Drake: Hi Merlin,
I found your comments quite illuminating until I got to your quote above. Here is where I have to disagree however. The 'goal' of BioLogos and their participation in Symposium I (www.vibrantdance.org)to be held in Austin, TX later this year at the end of October is also targeted at pastors and church leaders, not just scientists. The 'goal' is to convince evangelical pastors, leaders, and the rest of us, that evolution, properly understood, best describes God's work of creation. For reference, please consult the BioLogos home page (www.biologos.org)in the 'About' or 'About Us' section.

It's an all encompassing goal, not strictly limited, as you say, to bringing other scientists to Christ. And therein lies the danger, doesn't it? A danger that doesn't even address the problems with evolution in the first place, and which entity has the magisterial or ministerial role.

Eric said...

Merlin,

Sorry, I didn't know that asking questions about the specific words that you chose to use is "nit picking". I merely asked some questions one might logically have given your statement.

Saying that the purpose of Biologos "should be to" evangelize fellow scientists that than "is" to evangelize fellow scientists is an entirely different statement. If that is in fact what you meant, then so be it.

As to your whole discussion about appealing to authority, from what I have seen of Biologos, the authority they appeal to most commonly when there is a question of authority on an issue contention is science, not the Bible. So, to me that would be a funny way to convince unbelieving scientists that there is a greater authority than themselves that speaks to issues of truth, the human condition and the gospel of salvation.

Eric said...

Oops,

"that" should be "rather" in second paragraph of my previous comment.

Frank Turk said...

Merlin asked two questions:

Can you blame the scientists among us for attempting to reconcile our faith with our career paths? ... The goal of sites like Biologos, in my view, perhaps not theirs and certainly not Frank's, is to attempt to bring other scientists to Christ. Their audience is really other scientists. By putting them on the defensive over authority, the area where they should admit they have no solid ground, you undermine their efforts in evangelizing the scientific community.

My response: you answered your own question. I'll make it more clear for you by saying it this way: the primary objective of the Gospel is that man is to be put on the offensive regarding authority. Man thinks he wants to be the authority, the measure of all things. Factually, man is not the measure of all things, and the empty tomb of Jesus proves this out.

BioLogos doesn't see it that way, and that's yet another problem for them.

Given that authority is the issue, what Biblical constraints exist over man's attempt to understand God and God's creation?

I think man has an obligation, as it says in Genesis btw, to have dominion over the whole world, and to subdue it and work it for his own good. Some of that will involve working it our for himself -- because what Genesis lacks is a complete horticultural guide to the whole Earth, and a guide to husbandry, medicine, arhitecture, etc.

So it's useful to look at the world and say, "I wonder how to ..." Reading through Proverbs, I'd say it's actually encouraged to do so. But when man starts asking the question, "I wonder why ..." his first stop has to be what God has already said -- and it is in this realm that BioLogos says, "well, science can tell us why -- and those are the measures by which we have to interpret God's having saith anything."

That's the problem. The problem is not that we shouldn't be good doctors or chemists or architects or mechanics or whatever: the problem is that we want to replace God's established "why" with some man-made "why".

Jugulum said...

Frank,

"And also notice: we can believe the historicity of the birth of Jesus because science has generously explained the Star at His birth."

Eh? You think they said that? The next thing they mentioned in that segment was the resurrection of Jesus--do you think they were saying "We can believe the historicity of the resurrection because science has generously explained it"?

Those two paragraphs do say that the Bible usually gives "motivation" reasons for why things happen as opposed to "how" reasons. But in those two paragraphs, at least, I don't see where you're reading "We can believe the Bible's historical testimony because science has given an explanation for how that would happen". In fact, their mention of the Resurrection seems to make that reading impossible--unless they think the Resurrection wasn't miraculous.

Frank Turk said...

Juggy:

Patience my friend.

My opinion is that the explanations for/against the miraculous in Scripture hasn't been finalized yet by BioLogos. The Resurrection may be their last test subject, but it will not escape their method.

Robert Warren said...

BioLogos:
"...scientific conclusions will never be perfect, but they will certainly improve with time..."

Well, at least they didn't say time and chance.

Jugulum said...

It could be that they end up going there. If so... Very sad.

I'm afraid I still can't see where you read "we can believe the historicity...because".

I read that quote as, "The Bible usually gives 'motivation' reasons for why things happened as opposed to 'how' reasons. But it does include historical claims. Here's two examples--and by the way, we have a possible scientific explanation for how one of them happened."

I can't find the "we can believe the account because" element. That doesn't seem to be what they were talking about any more than Dan was giving an apologetic for the existence of God and the truth of the Bible in yesterday's post.

Jugulum said...

P.S. In case it wasn't clear: My point is that your use of that quote looks like bad exegesis--if you're right about Biologos in general, then it's like a case of "right sermon, wrong text". You'd need a different reference to show it coming straight from the horse's mouth.

Robert said...

The problem I think BioLogos runs into is that they can not explain the supernatural by science. They might try to because it is the only way we can "know" what really happened, but the Bible already tells us what happened. And who are we to supplant God's revelation of the truth with something our finite minds can grasp? Either you believe that God worked the miracles, signs, and wonders in the Bible, or you think that there is a natural reason those things happened. I'll stick with God's Word, thank you very much.

InTheImageOfDNA said...

Muslims do the same thing. Look at Harun Yahya - jettison scientific findings when it conflicts with scripture.

You fundamentalists have much more in common in your thinking with Al Qaeda than with your secular neighbors.

Frank Turk said...

The major difference between Christians and Al Qaida, -DNA, would be that it was Christians who frankly invented Western scientific inquiry. Even the guys at BioLogos concede that.

Robert said...

InTheImageOfDNA,

Since your name brings it up...how do you think something as complex and structured as DNA came about? Surely it can not be explained by forming "off the backs of crystals" as one prominent scientist suggests in "Expelled: The Movie"? Or maybe it was aliens, as Dawkins says...but then where did the aliens come from? You can't explain them, you say?

Then how about going with the Bible, where the infinite God created finite beings who can't quite understand things at His level. He reveals enough of Himself for us to glorify Him and know where we stand. Of course, there are many who, as Romans 1 says, "who by their unrighteousness suppres the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse." (Romans 1:18-20)

Or perhaps you can ask your DNA for an explanation...since you are made in its image, it must be able to think and speak, right? Or did you not know that is what it means for man to be created in God's image? It means we have a conscience and have some capability to think, rationalize, and do what is good...because we are made in His image. There's more, too, but I think that would suffice.

InTheImageOfDNA said...

@ Frank,

Genetic fallacy proves what?

Frank Turk said...

Juggy --

You are welcome to your critique of this post.

When I read the BioLogos bit about the Christmas star, my first reaction was, "huh! They admit that there was a miracle!" But in fact, they don't admit it was a miracle at all -- they have a scientific explanation for the event -- therefore, we can believe it.

This is really the whole point in a nutshell, the whole controversy summed up in one example: until there's a scientific explanation for "X" which the Bible says, we should seek other ways to reconcile religion to science. See: there's no reason to disbelieve Jesus was born, because people are born -- science says so. But that Jesus' birth was met with a miracle? A bridge too far. It's an event which either science has to explain, or else we have to chalk it up to the reason one might want tea or some other religious/non-factual explanation.

That epistemology doesn't bode well for their efforts from a perspective of the future of orthodoxy.

Eric said...

InTheImage...,

It is a fairly weak conclusion to imply that since two groups appeal to an absolute authority they have significant similarity.

InTheImageOfDNA said...

@Eric,

Since my point was the epistemic similarity of appealing to "divine" authority despite contravening evidence, the comparison is quite valid.

Eric said...

My guess - "I'm outta here" T.A. Lewis has re-emerged as InTheImageOfDNA. The habit of dismissing comments as consisting of a simple fallacy makes me think so.

Frank Turk said...

Poor DNA -- like his friend TA before him, he can parrot fallacies but not actually grasp how an argument works.

His argument is this:

All religious fundamnetalists use faith to trump reason.
Christians are fundamentaists.
Therefore, Christians use faith to trump reason.

My rebuttal is this:

Western Science is what DNA is using to measure "reason".
Christians invented western science.
Therefore, Christianity does not trump reason.

His retort is "genetic fallacy". Really? The genetic fallacy is when a flaw in the origin of a claim is therefore transfered to the claim -- "Hilter was evil, therefore his plan to make the trains run on-time must be evil." It may also be the transferrence of the perceived credibility of the source to the claim -- "My parents taught me to disbelieve in God, therefore it must be false."

Genetic fallacy determines merit based on the source. That's not what's happening here, but sadly "DNA" doesn't understand this. Is it logical to wonder what else he doesn't understand -- or would that actually be a genetic fallacy?

Mike Riccardi said...

Muslims do the same thing. Look at Harun Yahya - jettison scientific findings when it conflicts with scripture.

And rationalists and naturalists jettison the Word of God Himself when it conflicts with their epistemological authority.

We're no different in that regard. The only difference is we believe the testimony of the Creator of the universe is more valid than the "evidence" of a method which takes a fallen, cursed creation as its subject, and fallen, depraved rebels against that Creator as its students.

You fundamentalists have much more in common in your thinking with Al Qaeda than with your secular neighbors.

And you secularists have more in common in your thinking with Nazi Germany than with your religious neighbors. But that wasn't a helpful comparison at all, now was it?

Daryl said...

Jug,

I think Frank's argument has legs simply because BioLogos' current concern is Genesis.
As I understand their arguments, they claim that Genesis cannot really mean 6 days because science says otherwise.

That's their whole argument, is it not? You don't find exegesis anywhere.

So, I would expect that somewhere already within Biologos someone is saying that about the resurrection. After all, some there are already saying that about Adam as an historical figure, or about the likelihood of Eve actually being, as Scripture says "the mother of all living."

Eric said...

InTheImage...,

The latter portion of your initial comment implied more than just formation of knowledge. It referred to a commonality in thinking (with no qualifiers). There are many more facets of one's "thinking" that do not involve an immediate appeal to authority.

Most reasonable people would read your comment as implying significant similarity between Christians and Al Qaeda, a similarity that I think you did not demonstrate very well.

Out of respect for the blog author, I will refrain from further chasing down this rabbit hole. Thanks for your explanation.

DJP said...

DNA/Dave the Unteachable Troll/T. A. Lewis - hey, that looks like fun. Can others play?

* A has characteristic C

* B has characteristic C

* Therefore, A is B

Sweet!

So:

* DNA/Dave the Unteachable Troll/T. A. Lewis argues inanely

* Hitler argued inanely

* Therefore, DNA/Dave the Unteachable Troll/T. A. Lewis is Hitler

Fun!!

InTheImageOfDNA said...

@Frank & Eric

I’m not sure why I am getting compared to someone else. Found this blog today knee deep in search results. And @pologies if I do not respond promptly since I am at the mercy of a delayed flight schedule and the airport wi-fi.

However, I will say that your dancing Frank around the genetic fallacy was quitee fruitless. You retorted that my comparison was unsound becaus CXHristians invented science. That was classic genetic fallacy.

apologEs for typos. I’m on a cell

Jugulum said...

Frank,

"You are welcome to your critique of this post. [...] This is really the whole point in a nutshell"

If that is "really the whole point in a nutshell", do you really think it's unimportant & not worth your time to say how you get "therefore we can believe it" out of that quote?

Eric said...

InTheImage...,

I merely made a guess based on a striking similarity to a recent "short time" commenter who had a habit of labeling many/most arguments as a fallacy even when the fallacy was improperly applied. I make no actual accusation whatsoever as to your actual identity. Using a real name and/or having a profile with information usually helps to weed out ambiguity, not that I am saying that you are obliged to do so.

stratagem said...

Am I wrong in concluding that the BioLogos folk are just one scientific "proof" away from becoming Atheists?

InTheImageOfDNA said...

@DJp

You typed>

* A has characteristic C

* B has characteristic C

* Therefore, A is B
>

You misrepresenT.

My comparsisonn was nothing more than "THerefore, A has the same characteristic as B.

Fundamentalist Christian beliefs are closer to fundamentalist Muslim beliefs thanb their secular counterparts.

Do you not like this?

Daryl said...

Strat,

I don't think so. I think, at least for many of them, you are correct.

Robert said...

InTheImage...,

Are you a Christian? Just curious...

Eric said...

Strat,

That would probably be quite a stretch for some of the BioLogos folks and frighteningly accurate for others. I have a hard time seeing the group as that homogeneous.

Joshua Cookingham said...

So...how did Frank do a Genetic fallacy again?
Furthermore, how did you prove that Christians are INDEED closer to Muslim fundamentalists than Secularists?

DJP said...

You first, DNA/Dave the Unteachable Troll/T. A. Lewis: do you not like being closer to Hitler than your Christian counterparts?

InTheImageOfDNA said...

@RoBert

I am a pluralist

Jugulum said...

Daryl,

There's a difference between (1) forensic-style scientific evidence about what has happened, (2) scientific evidence about the way natural law works (in absence of miracles), and (3) the "scientific" philosophical assumption that miracles can't happen & natural law can't be broken. (#3 is materialism.)

Rejecting the Resurrection only comes from #3--rejecting miracles. Science is actually correct on #2--the Resurrection could only be a miracle; it couldn't happen naturally.

You can't assume that any given old-earth creationist or theistic evolutionist rejects miracles. Many (most?) operate on #1, their perception of the physical evidence about the history of the universe. Some also reject miracles--but you can't assume they do just because they think science disproves that plain reading of Genesis.

David said...

DJP,

Dave the Unteachable Troll here. For the record, I'm not anyone else but me. I have not left comments as TA Lewis or DNA. Does it make things simpler for you or make you feel better if you lump us all together?

By the way, could you define "troll" for me?

DJP said...

Frank, once you embrace the Jugulum tar-baby it will never let go.

Trust me.

DJP said...

What transcendent, extrinsic, unchanging ethic would compel you not to lie, Dave the Unteachable Troll?

Frank Turk said...

Juggy:

the nutshell was this: until there's a scientific explanation for "X" which the Bible says, we should seek other ways to reconcile religion to science. The part after the colon.

That is why I wrote what I wrote. Please think about that and not what you are thinking about, which I think is something other than that.

DJP said...

I WAS TOOOOOOOOO LAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATE......

InTheImageOfDNA said...

@Djp,

I see Godwin's law is in effect Here.

Yur retort was the tu quoque fallacy. You did not address the comparison. You simply said "HITLER"! as a means of red herringgg

Eric said...

InTheImage...,

"Fundamentalist Christian beliefs are closer to fundamentalist Muslim beliefs thanb their secular counterparts."

Your broader assertion is now becoming more clear.

Certainly there must be a greater point that you are trying to make. It seems to me that by picking out a notoriously bad group such as Al Qaeda and comparing Christianity to Al Qaeda you are attempting to discredit Christianity. If not, your observation would seem to serve no purpose.

Is that line of reasoning in fact a version of the Guilt by Association fallacy? You may not have stated it explicitly this way, but your implication seems fairly clear:

1. Al Qaeda is bad. (implied/commonly understood)

2. Christianity and Al Qaeda bear a similarity or similarities.

3. Therefore Christianity is bad. (implied)

Is this not a version of the Guilt by Association fallacy? If your intention was not to imply that Christianity was bad/fringe/kooky, why would you choose Al Qaeda as your object for comparison?

DJP said...

So, DNA, you admit that you used the Godwin fallacy?

I think you should do that, come clean, disown it, before proceeding.

Joshua Cookingham said...

I dunno Dna, I think he was arguing along the same lines you were, especially considering you started the whole thing with an Ad hominem statement.

David said...

"What transcendent, extrinsic, unchanging ethic would compel you not to lie, Dave the Unteachable Troll?"

So, instead of answering the question or admiting a mistake, you want to try deflection. You lumped us together and you were wrong. It's simple enough.

DJP said...

No answer to such a basic question, then?

Not just a troll, but an ardent dysangelist.

InTheImageOfDNA said...

@Djp,

What's a Godwin fallacy? It's an observatiion, humorously called a 'law'

The fact you don't know what a fallacy is is quite telling

Frank Turk said...

DJP:

but the tar baby is warm ... ?

DJP said...

So, DNA, do you disown it?

Frank Turk said...

DNA:

Oh brother -- like your grasp of the genetic fallacy?

Move along, sweet-ums. Your welcome has been worn out.

Joshua Cookingham said...

FRANK!!! We're going in more circles than a circuler reasoninst at a non sequitor convention!

David said...

"No answer to such a basic question, then?"

I believe that I was the first to ask a questions, and I haven't received an answer to my questions either.

No admission of error then? Is this a part of your transcendent, extrinsic, unchanging ethic?

I honestly don't understand. What is the definition of a troll?

DJP said...

He'll keep it warm until it goes really cold, Frank.

InTheImageOfDNA said...

@EriC

I said what i said. Fundamentalist Christianty , on epistemic terms , is closer to fundamentalist Islam than secualr humanism.

All your conclusions thereafter are your own.

Joshua Cookingham said...

David,

it's basically someone who keeps posting with the intent of causing a stir, rather than engaging.
Since I don't know you, I can't say whether you are or not, just letting you know :)

DJP said...

Okay, David the Unteachable Troll, your next comment that will not be deleted will be your answer to this question:

What transcendent, extrinsic, unchanging ethic would compel you not to lie?

If I have to delete three non-answers, you will be permanently banned.

Apologies to everyone else: we probably should have done troll-control long ago.

Daryl said...

Jug,

That's fine as far as it goes, but creation is given to us as a miracle. Evolution is not.

Yet BioLogos would have us believe evolution on the strength of "science" and reject the 6 day miracle because it doesn't fit their "science".

The Bible doesn't define which things are miracles and which are not. It simply tells us what happens.

So, if someone discovers that some old iron implements were made of a mixture of metals that could float, then we will be told that Elisha's floating axehead was no miracle at all, but simply looked like it to those foolish ancients.

Much like Biologos tells us about Genesis...

So...what if, what is someone comes up with a hypothesis that says that a man may be dead and yet live. What then? Whither the resurrection?
Because modern science doesn't require actual hard evidence, but merely a hypothesis that sounds better than the other guy's.

InTheImageOfDNA said...

@Frank,

My grasp of the GeNetic faLlacy is good enough to not commit it, unlike you did in this thread

David said...

There isn't any transcendent, extrinsic, unchanging ethic that would COMPEL me not to lie. I'm still not TA or DNA.

DJP said...

Then no one should bother with you, David the Unteachable Troll, or take your word for anything.

InTheImageOfDNA said...

@Djp,

"Do I disown it?"

Hitlerism?

Yes, I dIsown a twisted Christian Catholic despot

DJP said...

Do you own having committed the same fallacy in your first, inane comment in this thread?

David said...

"Then no one should bother with you, David the Unteachable Troll, or take your word for anything."

Well, if it makes you happy to draw that conclusion, so be it. It doesn't change the fact that I'm not TA or DNA.

Robert said...

DNA,

Hitler was following the path of evolution and natural selection...certainly wasn't following Jesus Christ. By the way, that is what a fundamental Christian does...follow Jesus as Lord. Just making sure you have the RIGHT definition down.

InTheImageOfDNA said...

@Djp,

I committed no sucH fallacY in my first comment. An observation is not an argument.

A line of reasoning can be fallaciouS but not an observation. False, yes, but not fallacious.

Didn't theYy teach taht in tenth grade?

Joshua Cookingham said...

"Didn't theYy teach taht in tenth grade?"

Guess they didn't teach spelling either... :P

DJP said...

Or whatever, David, since you never are under any compunction to tell the truth.

Goodness, what a waste of good folks' time you've been. This should have been gotten to earlier.

Jugulum said...

Dan,

Ouch.


Frank,

"the nutshell was this: until there's a scientific explanation for "X" which the Bible says, we should seek other ways to reconcile religion to science. The part after the colon.

Please think about that and not what you are thinking about, which I think is something other than that.
"

You then applied that nutshell to Jesus' birth, right? You said that nutshell is at work in their comments on Jesus' birth, "But that Jesus' birth was met with a miracle? A bridge too far."

I've been saying: There's nothing like that in what they actually said about Jesus' birth.

They very well may think that way, and your nutshell may be perfectly correct--I'm only saying that you can't justify it from the two paragraphs you quoted. (If you didn't intend to use that quote as evidence that shows your nutshell, then fine--but it sure looked that way when you said "And also notice:".)

Do with that what you will. I don't think I can say it any more clearly.

DJP said...

Then, DNA, what you're about is wasting good folks' time with frivolous bibble-babble.

Don't do it here; we aim at meaningful conversations for grown-up, or folks who want to be grown-ups.

Like Frank said, shoo.

InTheImageOfDNA said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Frank Turk said...

Juggy:

Was the star a miracle?

Eric said...

InTheImage...,

Unless you are just a fool intending to walk through life making meaningless observations, you obviously intended to make an implication with your observation. The obvious implication (that it is certain you intended) is a fallacious implication of the guilt by association variety. You may protest all you want that you merely made an observation and it is for others to draw conclusions. Reasonable people will see through your weak defense and know it it is as weak as your original implication.

DJP said...

They never listen.

InTheImageOfDNA said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joshua Cookingham said...

DNA,

The problem is, the 'parallels' you refer to are EXTREMELY disimilar. The creation accounts of Islam and Christianity have several key differences. Further, why are you stopping with Islam?
You could have compared Christianity with Greek Paganism(creationists) or Hinduists and their Sacred Scriptures. Seems to be more malicious and ad hominemy than a valid connection.

stratagem said...

"even some of what the Bible identifies as acts of God are probably not actually 'miracles' but are in fact acts which science can explain better than the writers of the books in the Bible."

I guess there's no room for Biblical inerrancy or divine inspiration in that approach!

DJP said...

DNA's brief and silly appearance is over; don't taunt or attempt to feed departed trolls, pls.

InTheImageOfDNA said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
InTheImageOfDNA said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jugulum said...

Frank,

Does Luke call it as a miracle? No. But because Luke says the star "went ahead of" the magi and "stood over where the child was"--yes, it sounds like it was a miracle. (I agree with AiG's analysis here.)

On the other hand, if a comet or star conjunction or other natural process could do that, then I'd say, "I don't know". (Except I agree with AiG's point, that it makes more sense for God to send clearly supernatural signs.)

To put your question another way: Was the star like the water-to-wine, or like God knitting us together in our mothers' wombs? Was it miraculous, or did God use natural processes?

If there did turn out to be an adequate natural process for the details of the text, then it would be no more hostile to a high view of Scripture than embryology. (But reluctance to believe it without a scientific "how"--that's sub-Christian.)

donsands said...

"But in fact, they don't admit it was a miracle at all -- they have a scientific explanation for the event -- therefore, we can believe it."-Cent

I saw a show on Discovery Channel, or National Geo., one of those stations where this Jewish guy, I guess he was a scholar, was figuring out all the ten plagues, and how they were miraces, but they were also natural things that happened. I know some Christians who liked it.
I thought it was forcing the Word to fit human smarts.

I hope Biologos doesn't go this far. I really hope not.

RealityCheck said...

“I see Godwin's law is in effect Here.”

Oh my… too funny. Remember a day or so ago I mentioned how much T.A. reminded of a guy I once saw on YouTube debating himself? Guess what? I remember him throwing “Godwin’s law” at me as well.

I’m sure these are all different people (wink, wink) who just happen to say all the same things.

Gotta go… a pig just flew into my back window so I have a mess to clean up.

David said...

"Or whatever, David, since you never are under any compunction to tell the truth."

I'm curious. So, if someone says that they don't think there is a specific transcendent, extrinsic, unchanging ethic would compels them to always tell the truth, then you don't ever believe them? That seems a little extreme.

You know, I really just wanted to say that there had been an error that needed correcting, and I wanted to know why I was being lumped in with others. Didn't think it was a big deal. Didn't think it would lead to all that wasted time. Live and learn.

DJP said...

Really, David - no one ever explained to you the dark consequences of your position?

I don't believe you.

(See, that's what happens.)

Steve Drake said...

Dear RealityCheck,
Yeah, when pigs sprout wings and start to fly, you know you've got a problem. Sprinkle some fairy dust on everything and that should take care of it.

David said...

"I don't believe you."

Well, I can believe that! Still, reality is what it is. I shall waste no more of your time.

David said...

(...the reality being that I'm not TA or DNA.)

DJP said...

I shall waste no more of your time.

I shall believe that when I don't see it.

If you take my meaning.

Frank Turk said...

Juggy --

Well, no: Luke doesn't call it a miracle. Matthew does:

After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

A star which moves in the sky and comes to rest over the place where the child was?

SCIENCE! I say! SCIENCE!

Stefan said...

Robert:

Way, waaaaaay up at the top of this comment thread, you made a useful differentiation between observation and application (on the one hand) and theory (on the other).

Scientists and engineers from the ancient Egyptians and Archimedes on down to the present day have been very good at observation and application—that's how we got a man to the moon and back, and there's no aspect of our lives that hasn't been touched (and often improved) by scientific endeavour.

It seems that grand theories of "life, the universe, and everything", however, were the province of theologians and philosophers until a certain English theologian-turned-biologist introduced a little theory of his own back in the 1800s, and set in motion the whole proliferation of modern theories of origins (evolutionary, geological, cosmological) and endings (climatological), arising (arguably) out of scientific inquiry, but lying outside the traditional domain of science.

Rachael Starke said...

Is it a full moon or something?

David said...

What an exciting day! Things picked right up there for a little while!

But since you titled this post as you did, I thought it needed, well, a Doxology.

Praise Glob from which all life forms flow
Praise Time and Chance which work so slow
Above all, Reason is our pride
For that cannot be falsified

Aaaaaah-men


As you were.

RealityCheck said...

“Is it a full moon or something?”

How about “something” like being…

…the greatest forum TROLL EVER KNOWN!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSbh2MsxdNs

Garrett League said...

1. Your main beef (as is the case with the ID movement) seems to be with methodological naturalism, which, like Dawkins and co., you probably don't distinguish from metaphysical naturalism. My question for you is this: at what point in my scientific investigations is it ok for me to appeal to a miraculous cause as an explanation for some natural effect? To say that "all causes can be the subject of scientific discovery" is conflating scientific naturalism with philosophical naturalism. All we're saying is "for practical purposes, I always look for natural causes for natural effects." Otherwise, science screeches to a dead stop. That DOES NOT mean that all causes have natural effects, only that science can only test natural ones, and only natural ones further our material understanding of the world. It's a methodological, practical, and epistemological necessity. See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b52Hbx73aPM

2. "science is the basis for substantiating scripture, and we're grateful that the self-correcting nature of science will improve our grasp of what God has said and done."

I think you're oversimplifying their position, though, at times, that does seem to be what they convey.

I know you're a strong presuppositionalist. Me too. But, while it's dead wrong to make scripture be at the continual beck and call of science (it's God's word, what higher authority can substantiate it!), nevertheless, why can't science be the handmaiden of scripture, helping us, at times, to clarify SOME of what the bible says? Helping us understand SOME aspects of God's revelation? It's surely silly to look for a natural explanation of the Christmas star in order to substantiate a biblical account (I read JMac's "God in the Manger" and he thinks it was the visible shekhinah glory of God). Same for the Red Sea crossing. Yet even Charles Hodge (who said Darwinism = atheism) also said:

"Nature is as truly a revelation of God as the Bible; and we only interpret the Word of God by the Word of God when we interpret the Bible by science. As this principle is undeniably true, it is admitted and acted on by those who, through inattention to the meaning of terms, in words deny it. When the Bible speaks of the foundations, or of the pillars of the earth, or of the solid heavens, or of the motion of the sun, do not you and every other sane man, interpret this language by the facts of science? For five thousand years the Church understood the Bible to teach that the earth stood still in space, and that the sun and stars revolved around it. Science has demonstrated that this is not true. Shall we go on to interpret the Bible so as to make it teach the falsehood that the sun moves around the earth, or shall we interpret it by science, and make the two harmonize? Of course, this rule works both ways. If the Bible cannot contradict science, neither can science contradict the Bible…There is a two-fold evil on this subject against which it would be well for Christians to guard. There are some good men who are much too ready to adopt the opinions and theories of scientific men, and to adopt forced and unnatural interpretations of the Bible, to bring it to accord with these opinions. There are others, who not only refuse to admit the opinions of men, but science itself, to have any voice in the interpretation of Scripture. Both of these errors should be avoided."

While your criticism of Biologos may be perfectly valid, what's wrong with that? If Biologos is in the first of Hodge's extremes, aren't you in the second, since, like it or not, you won't even conceded some fairly basic (and extremely well-attested) scientific truths about creation?

DJP said...

Oh RealityCheck, I love that!

It so fits this meta, too.

RealityCheck said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Frank Turk said...

Garret asks:

at what point in my scientific investigations is it ok for me to appeal to a miraculous cause as an explanation for some natural effect?

When will you stop beating your wife, I wonder?

See: I think the answer to your question is, "you can seek the miraculous as an explanation when God says it's OK." It's the answer that Scripture gives -- and somehow it doesn't undo Lipitor and Aspirin and antibiotics and combustion engines and fluorescent lights and actual medical biology and physics and so on. When Christ walked out of the tomb, all the sophomoric cleverness walked into the tomb, and died. But the command of God to man to seek domino and essentially work the world for good did not.

So you want to cure cancer? Go get it. You can to invent a car that runs on water? Knock yourself out. You want to create a nuclear fusion reactor? Bang on, donkey kong.

You want to explain the origin of all things? Well, to do that, you have to stand in front of the empty tomb and make sense of that. The Bible does that – and science doesn’t. It’s not science’s job, sadly – even though science wants to be that kind of god.

It is far lacking in that respect, because to science, the empty tomb needs to be explained like why water boils. The empty tomb, though is not some result: it’s the central cause, the ultimate reason. And it belongs to the Prime Mover, not so kid who is really good at calculus.

No offense to anyone – but putting the cart before the horse like that is simply not thinking about this in a Christ-centered way. It’s thinking about this in a Christ-forgetful way.

RealityCheck said...

Hey… at least the guys got a goal… you’ve got to give him that. ;-)

Garrett League said...

Exactly, I agree. Unless the bible reveals a miracle, science is free to study away.

But, you say no scientific investigations in to man's/earth's origins, since that is clearly revealed as a miracle in the bible, right?

So when the bible says that God made man from the dust of the earth and breathed into him the breathe of life, that was a miracle, and no sense in looking into man's origin via science. Just stick to "observational science" and don't try to reconstruct life's/earth's history based on materialistic assumptions.

Ok, then, I just disagree that the bible demands that origins be off the table for scientific investigation (as MacArthur said in that lecture you recommended). Tremper Longman recently said at Biologos regarding man's origin:

"Is this a literal description of how God actually created the first human being? Hardly. Even without recourse to knowledge of ancient Near Eastern literature, this description is clearly not literal. God does not have a body with lungs so that he would literally breathe into dust. God is a spiritual being. The description has other purposes than telling us how God created human beings. It is, in the first place, saying God, and not any other god, created human beings. Second, it is, in contrast to the Atrahasis, presenting a picture of humanity’s creation which indicates that we are creatures with great dignity (created from God’s breath, not the spit of the gods)."

Warfield said that “Calvin’s doctrine of creation is...for all except the souls of men, an evolutionary one...Calvin doubtless had no theory whatever of evolution; but he teaches a doctrine of evolution...All that is not immediately produced out of nothing is therefore not created—but evolved.” This supposedly reflects Calvin's high view of providence, and lead him to emphasize God's creating by 2nd causes.

Since tons of evidence supports that, and the bible doesn't demand a purely miraculous explanation of origins, why not go there? Lot's of solid believing OT scholars are cool w/ that, at least w/ regard to earth's origins.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Frank, once you embrace the Jugulum tar-baby it will never let go.

Trust me."


It is possible to extract oneself. It's difficult, but not impossible.

It takes a while, but the "Jugulum tar-baby" can be reasoned with.

joel said...

DJP,
If you delete part of a schizophrenic's personality from a forum does it have to stay away?

Steve Drake said...

Hi Garrett,
Garrett said:
"So when the bible says that God made man from the dust of the earth and breathed into him the breathe of life, that was a miracle, and no sense in looking into man's origin via science. Just stick to "observational science" and don't try to reconstruct life's/earth's history based on materialistic assumptions."

Steve Drake: Hi Garrett,
I see from your profile that you are a biology grad student from Baylor University. From your classes in biology, what does 'naturalistic science' say is the origin of the first organic living cell from non-organic chemicals? How do they explain this? Do they still use the Miller-Urey experiment in academia today, or when you were in school?

I think you can see where I'm going with this. From my understanding 'naturalistic science' has no answer to abiogenesis. So in your view, was this a miracle? Did God weigh in at this point to jump start the first living cell and then evolution with mutations and natural selection continuing the process for a little while? When was the next step where God stepped in? Can you detail this or provide any support for some sort of consensus(Christian scientific consensus if you like) at those critical points where God stepped in? Can you not see how this process of death, disease, suffering, animals red in tooth and claw does not bring glory to a God of order and goodness? Can you not see how this marrs and degrades God's character as stated in Scripture?

God does not have to have lungs to breathe life into His creation. God does not have to be a surgeon to remove a rib from Adam's side to fashion a woman. We don't know how God does these things, but that's the very definition of 'miracle' is it not? What is the naturalistic explanation for Jesus walking on water, or immediately cursing the fig tree so that it withered on the spot?

Are you saying you need a naturalistic explanation for everything that happens in life? I don't suppose you are, especially in light of how He transformed you from being dead in sin, to the glorious gospel of His light.

Garrett, are you not reading the contrary evidence in the literature that speaks to such things as the big bang and earth's origin/age? Or is that where your quibble is, you've read them, and just don't believe them?

Frank Turk said...

Garrett:

So Calvin was not a six-day guy? Are you sure? Because in his Commentary on Genesis (available on-line at cal.org) he said this:

The first day Here the error of those is manifestly refuted, who maintain that the world was made in a moment. For it is too violent a cavil to contend that Moses distributes the work which God perfected at once into six days, for the mere purpose of conveying instruction. Let us rather conclude that God himself took the space of six days, for the purpose of accommodating his works to the capacity of men. We slightingly pass over the infinite glory of God, which here shines forth; whence arises this but from our excessive dullness in considering his greatness? In the meantime, the vanity of our minds carries us away elsewhere. For the correction of this fault, God applied the most suitable remedy when he distributed the creation of the world into successive portions, that he might fix our attention, and compel us, as if he had laid his hand upon us, to pause and to reflect. For the confirmation of the gloss above alluded to, a passage from Ecclesiasticus is unskilfully cited. He who liveth for ever created all things at once,' (Ecclesiasticus 18:1.) For the Greek adverb koinho which the writer uses, means no such thing, nor does it refer to time, but to all things universally.

And again in the same tome Calvin writes:

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished [100] Moses summarily repeats that in six days the fabric of the heaven and the earth was completed. The general division of the world is made into these two parts, as has been stated at the commencement of the first chapter. But he now adds, all the host of them, by which he signifies that the world was furnished with all its garniture. This epilogue, moreover, with sufficient clearness entirely refutes the error of those who imagine that the world was formed in a moment; for it declares that all end was only at length put to the work on the sixth day.

So it's a good thing a stupid guy like me has a genius like Alistair McGrath to tell me what Calvin would have thought if he was born 500 years alters.

Next.

Frank Turk said...

Sorry: the Calvin link is at ccel.org

Frank Turk said...

Also sorry: Garret did cite Warfield and not McGrath. That doesn't make Calvin any less clear.

Frank Turk said...

Pretty David:

You just won something with that hymn to Reason. I don't know what, but I heard the bells ring.

Rachel said...

This is rather interesting to me because I'm in the health care field, and there's a lot of science involved in my job. I'm currently working towards my nursing degree, and as a result have to take multiple advanced science courses.

I absolutely love the science classes I'm taking. Why? Because, to me, they glorify God's creation. Things like how in chemical equations the same amount of atoms in the beginning are at the end just rearranged into different molecules, or how the human body is truly a perfect system and the fact that it degrades and diseases exist shows the curse of this world. Even diseases and bacteria and viruses are complex and incredible.

How an atom is made and how molecules form to create matter is incredibly intelligent and organized in such a way that only God could create something so precise. The fact that water sustains life, and its properties are so key to life makes perfect sense when you know the chemical break down. How could anything BUT God know that hydrogen bonds would be the key for plants to survive? These hydrogen bonds allow water to float in a solid state, the only substance known to do this, which allows water organisms to stay insulated under that ice so that they don't die off. That an aqueous solution such as blood would be the perfect environment for a red blood cell to transport a gas? I believe blood is the only liquid known to do this.

Did you know that the two most common elements in the universe are Hydrogen and Helium? Every single element on this earth is a derivative of those two elements. Not all of you may know how elements are broken down into neutrons, protons, and electrons, but to me that's incredibly significant. Hydrogen and Helium are the simplest of all the elements so for all of the other elements to come into existence by gaining more protons, neutrons, and electrons means something huge had to make that happen. Something huge...like God.

Even nutrition and the fact that we eat and how food breaks down into proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, which are needed to make key amino acids and nucleic acids and energy. How could that be anything BUT Divine?

How everything is lined up just so, and it creates the impossible. The likelihood of all these infinite "chances" to occur and support life as we know it are so tiny that, to me, only God could be the one to make it happen. So, to me, an organization that tries to use science to lessen God's power doesn't make sense. That's like trying to lessen God with God Himself because of the fact that God created everything and knows how everything works, something we only have a glimpse of. The more information we gain the more impressive the knowledge becomes. So, to me, the only answer that makes sense is that God made all of it.

Sir Aaron said...

The verse says "Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
(Gen 2:7)

Man takes this verse and then reads his experience back into it. Man says, "God couldn't possibly have breathed life into Adam's actual nostrils because only living creatures 'breathe'." Naturally, man proclaims this "fact" based on his extensive experience with the abilities of spiritual beings and God in particular.

Secondarily, man completely forgets how language is used. If I say I crushed my enemies in combat, everyone understands that I'm literally and figuratively describing what happened. Nobody thinks I put my enemies in a vice and literally crushed them. But if the Bible says it, by golly, it's got to be some sort of allegory.

On another note: I have a particular beef with scientists who claim to be able to know what would happen after the world was completely flooded." I mean come on....that's a ridiculous proposition.

Sir Aaron said...

Rachel:

Great testimony. I tried to engage my oral surgeon in a discussion while he was removing my wisdom teeth. He was telling me how amazing the human mouth is. I was trying to point out that it's proof of God's glory. Unfortunately, I don't think he was able to understand what I was saying.

Garrett League said...

Steve Drake:

"From your classes in biology...first organic living cell from non-organic chemicals?"

I'll let evolutionary biologist and uber-atheist Jerry Coyne answer that:

"That's a problem which I think we have to be worried about because I don't think we're ever going to solve it. We can replicate the origin of life in the lab and I think we'll do that within the next 20 years, but that doesn't tell us that that's the way it happened. We can get closer to theories about how it originiated, but since it was a one-time even, 3.5 billion years ago, all we can do is make inferences about how it happened, and like all scientists there are just some questions that I think we have to accept that we're never going to know the answer to, but there is no doubt that it only happened once."

Now that is honest! And it was given at a Q&A after a lecture on evolution at the Atheist Alliance International 2009 conference.

"So in your view, was this a miracle?"

I'm open to that possibility, so long as it isn't used to discourage research. God certainly could have done it either way; his hands aren't tied.

"Did God weigh in at this point...where God stepped in?"

That sounds like ID, which I'm not a fan of. I believe God created through 2nd causes, and that makes him no less responsible. I don't think he had to "intervene" from time to time because if he created nature to result in a certain end, couldn't he sink all the balls in one shot? I think he ordained and sustained the cosmos in such a way that after the initial creation of time/space/matter (yes, that was supernatural!) life would be produced via ordinary providence. No maverick molecules!

"Can you not see how this process of death...degrades God's character as stated in Scripture?"

Well, unless you believe the earth is young and all animals were once vegetarians (both of which I find fantastically unlikely and lacking in biblical evidence), then it's a problem for us all. Your position has plenty of problems as well.

Frank Turk said...

You know: I'm not going to defend Answers in Genesis.

However, I am going to say this:

The problem "my view" has is that it requires God to be someone more than a deistic absentee landlord who pops in once (maybe) to die on a cross. The solution to that problem is found in every other page of Scripture in the person of God.

The problem the other side has is all the other pages of Scripture, pointing to a God who is more than an deistic absentee landlord.

I think I'm OK.

Garrett League said...

Steve cont.

"God does not have to have lungs to breathe life into His creation."

That's not the point. The point is, the language is clearly anthropomorphic and hence non-literal.

"Are you saying you need a naturalistic explanation for everything that happens in life?"

Not even close. I'm not a materialist, I just think God normally works through ordinary providence.

"Or is that where your quibble is, you've read them, and just don't believe them?"

Yes, in fact I'm probably more familiar with the common creationist arguments against the BB/Evo/OE than the theories themselves, since I used to argue against them. Outside the YEC apologetic bubble, nothing really supports those arguments. You have to presuppose YEC as a matter of conviction to be persuaded, which is fine by me, just don't say it's binding on all your fellow brothers and sisters if they find it intellectually dishonest to accept it.

Frank:

Calvin was ABSOLUTELY a 6 day, young-earther...and a geocentrist.

"[Those who assert that] the earth moves and turns ... [are motivated by] a spirit of bitterness, contradiction, and faultfinding; [possessed by the devil, they aimed] to pervert the order of nature."

Next!

(P.S., I have been tremendously helped by Calvin's insights into astronomy and the creation accounts: http://helives.blogspot.com/2008/05/calvin-on-science.html Plus, I didn't quote Calvin to say he wasn't a 6-day, 24hr guy, since I am too! Oh, and Alister McGrath is a genius! And he apparently wrote a nice bio on Calvin to boot.)

Sir Aaron said...

It's only anthropomorphic because you read human traits into the language. You read "breathe", which by the way, is the English translation not the original Hebrew, and think of human breathing. Of course, the English definition of breathing actually has several different applications, but you've chosen the one that makes the most sense to you.

You still haven't demonstrated that God cannot literally puff the "breath of life" into a human being.

Garrett League said...

Frank:

"The problem "my view" has is that it requires God to be someone more than a deistic absentee landlord who pops in once (maybe) to die on a cross. The solution to that problem is found in every other page of Scripture in the person of God"

That sounds an awful lot like Chris Hitchens (God only "intervened" at the cross). I hate the term "divine intervention." What's to intervene! He made us and without him continually upholding us second to second we wouldn't be here!

You know, Phil Johnson, in a sermon he gave on the Charismatic movement, said that they often claim "If God's not doing miracles, he's absent." Nonsense, says Phil, if God answers prayer through providence HE IS NO LESS RESPONSIBLE THAN IF HE ANSWERED IT VIA MIRACLE.

This is no absentee, deistic God, the God of William Paley or the ID proponents. If he ordains and sustains it, he does it, period. Gravity does not book God out of the solar system. Meteorologists don't explain weather without the one who sends rain and thunder. If God feeds the birds and clothes the grass the same way he made us, is he absent? He knit you in your womb, yet science can explain how he did that. In doing so, it doesn't make him any less involved: it just shows how glorious his knitting processes is.

A.H. Strong said this:

"Evolution, then, does not exclude Christianity. If we were deists, believing in a distant God and a mechanical universe, evolution and Christianity would be irreconcilable. But since we believe in a dynamical universe, of which the personal and living God is the inner source of energy, evolution is but the basis, foundation, and background of Christianity, the silent and regular working of him who, in the fullness of time, utters his voice in Christ and the cross."

Garrett League said...

Oops!

Gravity does not [kick] God out of the solar system."

and

"He knit you in your [mother's] womb"

Knitting a dude in his womb; now THAT would take a miracle, lol.

DJP said...

For any newbies who are wondering who Garrett is, the kid asks questions like...

Since tons of evidence supports that, and the bible doesn't demand a purely miraculous explanation of origins, why not go there? Lot's of solid believing OT scholars are cool w/ that, at least w/ regard to earth's origins.

Garrett has had this question answered for him again, and again, and again.

Garrett is a modern descendant of the ten Israelite spies. God's word on origins is insufficient. God-hating materialistic degree-granting Darwinists tell Garrett that Science has disproven the Biblical account, he wants them to like him, and he desperately wants to make himself feel better about caving and cozying up to the Amalekites, rather than resting on God's Word.

So Garrett fills up thread after thread with all the pro-compromise squish-quotations ("Hey fellas! This guy's a PhD, and he doesn't believe what Genesis says!") he can find. He's jammed up enough in his clipboard to derail any thread, and bog down the author with re-re-re-answering the same tired question for the 60th time, the 61st time, the 62nd time....

I don't think it's because Garrett doesn't know better. Certainly not because he hasn't been told better.

I think it's because Garrett doesn't want to be known to know what he knows.

Frank Turk said...

Garrett --

So what is your point exactly? The Calvin rabbit trail is you personal excursus here. Please tell us what exactly you mean by it.

Frank Turk said...

Garret muttered:

You know, Phil Johnson, in a sermon he gave on the Charismatic movement, said that they often claim "If God's not doing miracles, he's absent." Nonsense, says Phil, if God answers prayer through providence HE IS NO LESS RESPONSIBLE THAN IF HE ANSWERED IT VIA MIRACLE.

The problem, of course, is the distinct difference between the charismatic claims of "miracles" and the explicit authority of Scripture which says, "God did this," or "God did that".

Since this is Phil's blog, you go ahead and ask him if he believes what you are stuffing in his mouth right now. I'd be interested to see the response.

Garrett League said...

Dan:

What I do know is I picked the wrong major. Big time. My studies have really brought me lots of grief. Sorry If I've wasted your time/derailed the comments/ignored answers. I'll move on. I will. I do know better and I know where y'all stand and I appreciate your responses. Just trying to interact and throw some thoughts out there.

As you can probably tell, I'm pretty torn on this issue and I need some peace, so I compensate by trying to get at least some small modicum of affirmation from folks I know disagree w/ me (not working out thus far). I just need to settle this by grounding my trust in something solid, as you suggest.

"I think it's because Garrett doesn't want to be known to know what he knows."

Whew, that hit me like a ton of bricks (kind of ticked me off at 1st). I know it's a mother trying to reconcile the bible w/ evolution. I know it. And it's a mother reconciling science with YEC. I really need to stand back and count the cost. Thanks for that gut punch. I perceive that you are a prophet.

Frank:

On Calvin, my point was to highlight his thoughts on creation through 2nd causes.

Phil has already responded to me, I know where he stands, don't want to put any words in his mouth.

Thanks for the thoughts, sorry to bug and get carried away (ask Fred, I've badgered him off and on on this topic for a few months now). Thanks for putting up. If you could forgive my comment flood and say a 2 sec. prayer for me, I'd appreciate it.

Sir Aaron said...

Garrett:

I'll gladly pray for you as well. Many of us have struggled in our walks and it takes courage to admit it here.


And it's a mother reconciling science with YEC

Indeed. That's because most people go about it backwards. Scientists look at a full grown tree and say "it looks many years old." God says, "Yeah it does...but I created it yesterday." Scientists cut down the tree. Sure enough, the rings indicate it is 100 years old. Dating methods indicate it is 100 years old. But what does God say? At some point you have to wonder if science and creation can, in fact, be reconciled.

RealityCheck said...

Sir Aaron,

Good points but it’s even worse than that. Those dating methods themselves have “age” built right into them because no other explanation can even be considered. It’s like using a ruler to measure the length of something that has feet marks where inches ought to be. How could that ever be reconciled with something that never even hints at something being anything but inches long?

Mike Riccardi said...

As I'm following the conversation to this point, I'm reminded of the following (brilliant) post: here.

RealityCheck said...

Garrett,

I’ve spoken to you before. If I remember correctly you said I sounded like your Dad, which I took as a compliment. I also seem to remember that you seemed to be a genuine seeker at the time. However, now I wonder if maybe you have set yourself up seeking something that cannot be found.

I clicked over to your website from your profile and saw where you wrote this, “I seek, by God's grace, to understand the underlying harmony between general and special revelation.”

With all due respect, while I think that that is a fine goal, considering there is no real conflict between the two, a conflict can arise if one is not careful how one decides to understand general revelation. IOW, if you look to science to understand general revelation, with its prerequisite of explaining everything with no reference to the supernatural, how exactly could you ever find the harmony you seek with the bible? It makes me think of the kind of nonsense that goes on in the public schools where we’re going to explain to our kids how the world works but we can’t mention God. How exactly does one go about explaining things without being able to mention the best explanation?

I don’t claim to no what is really got you baffled but I do claim to know this. You can’t serve two masters and I think that’s what you’re trying to do… even if you don’t mean to.

I’ll be praying for you as well. God bless.

philness said...

Garrett,

Take comfort in the fact that you were born of the Logos and not of the Bio nor on the Bayou. Our believing is conditioned at its source by our belonging. You are hidden in Christ and as Paul said, "Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you" (2 Cor.13:5) We believe God because he rebirth us. We believe a literate Genesis interpretation because it simply reads that way and God declared it and who are we to not presuppose it.

Frank Turk said...

Garrett --

Given where this has ended up, e-mail me if you want to discuss off-line. It's unexpected that you stopped where you did, and I credit you for it.

Steve Drake said...

Hi Garrett,
I think others have weighed in with answers to some of your comments to my post since I signed off yesterday. But today is a new day. Would you like to continue in an honest search for answers (I have much more to say) or should I take Dan's advice that you have had these questions answered again and again and not waste my breath? I'm willing to continue if you are brother.

DJP said...

It's Frank's thread, but I'll offer my opinion, Steve:

If one wants to evade any Biblical doctrine, he can always find some scholar who will weigh in to oppose it. That's the way this conversation has gone: Biblical point, copy-and-paste from some evader; rinse, repeat.

I don't think it's been profitable, and for my part (again, leaving room for Frank to way in) I'm pretty weary of seeing that particular endless do-loop.

Frank Turk said...

I think an off-line conversation with garrett would be way more profitable for him and for whoever was talking with him.

Comments are closed.