Equating evolution with atheism

I’m going to use James Maxwell’s thoughts (as quoted by Ian Hutchinson) to show you why I think somebody like Maxwell has a much better handle on this (and from within the faith) than Dawkins does. The following words are from that master scientist, Maxwell himself:

Now my great plan, which was conceived of old, … is to let nothing be wilfully left unexamined. Nothing is to be holy ground consecrated to Stationary Faith, whether positive or negative. All fallow land is to be ploughed up and a regular system of rotation followed. … Never hide anything, be it weed or no, nor seem to wish it hidden. … Again I assert the Right of Trespass on any plot of Holy Ground which any man has set apart. … Now I am convinced that no one but a Christian can actually purge his land of these holy spots. … I do not say that no Christians have enclosed places of this sort. Many have a great deal, and every one has some. But there are extensive and important tracts in the territory of the Scoffer, the Pantheist, the Quietist, Formalist, Dogmatist, Sensualist, and the rest, which are openly and solemnly Tabooed . …Christianity - that is, the religion of the Bible - is the only scheme or form of belief which disavows any possessions on such a tenure. Here alone all is free. You may fly to the ends of the world and find no God but the Author of Salvation. You may search the Scriptures and not find a text to stop you in your explorations. …The Old Testament and the Mosaic Law and Judaism are commonly supposed to be “Tabooed” by the orthodox. Sceptics pretend to have read them, and have found certain witty objections … which too many of the orthodox unread admit, and shut up the subject as haunted. But a Candle is coming to drive out all Ghosts and Bugbears. Let us follow the light.

Maxwell’s confidence in Christian objectivity or our will to “plow up that sacred ground” might have taken a bit of a battering if he could have witnessed the last 150 years of fundamentalism, but his attitude is still striking, and shows that there is a long legacy of rich and deep self-reflective and self-critical Christian thought to be had, despite the shallow fundamentalisms with all their distracting clamor that so singularly captivates and imprisons the stunted Neo-atheist gaze.

I welcome and value the critique and insights from a man who knows where he is within a system even more than those from someone who presumes to have uprooted himself from any philosophical soils, to the point of scorn even, and ultimately to his own ignorance. And that is not to say the latter contributions were valueless - far from it; because the rich soil was still there all along of course, even if the intellectual growth that sprang from it chooses to remain ignorant of its debt.

Let me hasten to add that this freshly expressed critique here is nonetheless an old thought reactive to a now dated book “The God Delusion”, and as such I’m not reacting to Dawkins as he may think today, but as he expressed himself then in that particular book. [And this is without any presumption whatsoever that he is any less atheistic now than he was then.] He is brilliant, and he might not now be so philosophically naieve as the stridency of his writings then made him appear. His science in his published work is such that I am in his debt.

1 Like

God is the instantiator of the laws of physics. The immanent purposeful ground of autonomous infinite being for eternity. Their author in the sense that He puts the theory, which has nothing to do with Him, in to practice. The theory is prevenient, as it is in Love.

He would say that there is no inside to pee in to.

I like your [critique] and have similar ones myself, but they seem akin to, on the way to criticizing rationality because it is a narrative, the objective isn’t. He looks blind to his privilege that’s for sure and even to the biological basis of that which he criticizes.

As for Maxwell, only a handful, a few here aspire to let nothing be wilfully left unexamined. And as for RD, he threw the rock in the stream and the stream hasn’t flowed on much in 15 years. Fewer there be who acknowledge the rock, the vast majority just back up from it, objecting to the style of the thrower. Including Francis Collins.

You make some not so logically prevenient presuppositions, you just mistakenly presume them to be.

1 Like

This is a helpful point when it comes to the claims that EC (or whichever term you prefer) is just compromise with the world.
I thought Denis Lamoureux addressed this well:

The distinction is that the YEC view agrees with the atheistic assertion that evolution equals no God, while EC agrees that evolution describes what has been happening but concludes that the Christian God is using it.

1 Like

Thanks - I look forward to listening.

Jeremiah 14:22 affirms that God, not the skies, provide rain. Should we denounce meteorology as unbiblical? No, the Bible affirms that God is at work in everyday “natural law” events. The claim that evolution is evidence of God’s absence is the “god of the gaps” error, rampant both among antievolutionists and antitheists, as was noted at the start of the thread. In fact, Ecclesiastes and Job 28 actually discuss where one can get in trying to discern theology from the evidence of the physical world, and the answer is “nowhere”. If we know God, we can appreciate His hand in everything, but we do not understand Him from mere physical analysis.

2 Likes

I just had to google malacology. I was so ready for it to be a witticism about the forbidden fruit (Malus sp?).

This is the apparent stage of division that I used to subscribe to until I really began to understand basic biology in college. For years I thought evolution meant no God, and in fact I had a convoluted understanding of it’s mechanisms as well.

Guess it has something to do with the strong prevalence of strict, literal interpretations of non-historical truths. Too bad my family still believes this to be true. When I told my parents that I accepted the two, they believed me to be an atheist, and still do so I left the conversation at me thinking about my beliefs and affirming my faith.

So far so good, I just keep silent for now when the discussion of dinosaurs and mutations arise. Hoping they will one day see that I’m not another philosophical nihilist :laughing:

1 Like

(a) & (d) If God grounds being, that’s how He is ‘at work in everyday “natural law” events’ has ‘His hand in everything’.

(b) You contradict this with (c) and (e). The history of the cultural elaboration of evolution is against Bronze Age creationism given longer lease of life by Christianity. Logically, philosophically even, evolution emerges from (materialist) science. There is no gap in materialism. There is no need for it to be anti anything, apart from false, dangerous claims, including progressive ones with no theological dimension. Theology doesn’t emerge from science, there’s no need to go there, apart from as a subject of scientific investigation; an aspect of nature.

(d) We can only know God in our desire of Jesus. Who extended His enculturated creationism.

(e) If God grounds being then we certainly can, like Aquinas in his day, understand Him from mere physical analysis, on the premiss of Jesus. And iteratively we can understand Jesus better.

Malakos means “soft”. It’s negative in most uses of the word in the New Testament.

1 Like

I am not following your argument about “b”; you may want to explain it more. You seem to say that theology doesn’t emerge from science and that I am incorrect to say that theology doesn’t emerge from science.

e: I would say that, if we are working from the premise of Jesus, then that is a non-scientific ground for our understanding, and mere physical analysis is not what is getting us to an understanding of God. It sounds like we may be defining “mere physicla analysis” differently. Given the premise of Jesus, then we can indeed use physical analysis to learn more.

Virtual hugs to you. May your righteousness shine like the dawn and the justice of your cause shine like the sun. I hope you know in your heart that you’re not a hopeless case.

I just asked someone to consider reviewing the high school curriculum BioLogos is putting out and was told no because there was no chance the person could recommend it because people who accept evolution deny original sin and the need for a savior and their Christianity doesn’t make any sense. Sigh.

6 Likes

Thank you for your kind words, means a lot. I feel like I’m torn between Scylla and Charybdis at this point lol. Either way, God knows my heart and my love for Him. It’s just sad to see that people think there’s a cut and dry way to view the world, picking one side or the other.

Before college, I remember a classmate who was a Christian but then gradually switched over to atheism because of the acceptance of evolution. He believed that the two were incompatible and his family was fundamental in practice, they said it’s either the 7 day narrative or the highway. He chose the highway. For me, it is very unfortunate to see someone give up any belief in God when traditional values are revealed to be false in light of science. At that time, I didn’t accept evolution as well and tried my hardest to keep him in the fold but it didn’t work out.

There really needs to be a stronger push for integration and change within traditional Christianity. For starters, it makes Christians look incompetent with science, and secondly, it makes people choose one or the other, which is too polarized for me. But I am glad to be part of this community and will do my best to help those as myself reckon with their reasoning.

6 Likes

Why didn’t I get this memo?!

2 Likes

I know a bunch of people who’d be ready to send it to you.

The understanding Adam and Eve thing is a real hang-up for a lot of Christians. I don’t think any ECs have offered satisfying definitive answers. But part of the problem is that reality doesn’t support the “traditional” belief that all humans can trace their biological descent directly back to a single couple in recent history who were the first and only humans on earth. Or back to Noah and his kids if you believe all humanity except for a few couples were destroyed in the Flood. It’s like people are like “In order to find your answers satisfying, I need your explanations to humor all the assumptions I have made based on premises that are demonstrably false.” That makes it difficult.

Most of the arguments about why Christians can’t accept evolution go like this. “If evolution is true, that means that Adam and Eve were not the first people on earth and it wasn’t their sin that brought death to the world, so there was no Fall. If there was no Fall, there is no original sin, so people don’t need a savior. If people don’t need a savior than Jesus’ death and resurrection is meaningless so there is no gospel. And if you believe evolution the Bible is full of errors and can’t be trusted, so you don’t even know that Jesus died and rose again anyway. If you trust science so much you can’t believe in miracles and science says people don’t rise from the dead.”

Clearly there are a lot of logical leaps there (not to mention completely ignoring the idea that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”) but that is the line of reasoning that they think is really unassailable.

2 Likes

It is still possible to have Adam and Eve as part of a larger human population at some point in the past. Due to the way populations work it is entirely possible that everyone alive today could have Adam and Eve as one of their ancestors. In other words, it isn’t necessary for Adam and Eve to be the sole ancestors of all humans in order for them to be ancestors of all humans.

Also, it doesn’t take long for these ancestor and descendent relationships to work themselves out.

In this scenario, Adam and Eve could have been specially created, and their children interbred with human population around them. Adam and Eve could have been born like anyone else, but anointed in some way by God. Either way, there is nothing in the genetic evidence that would preclude such a scenario. Adam and Eve could also be ghost ancestors which are ancestors whose DNA is not found in any of their modern descendants. Ghost ancestors are an interesting outcome of population genetics.

3 Likes

Oh, I understand this. I don’t think it maps on to the “traditional” young earth understanding of Adam and Eve though. I know some people who shall remain nameless think you can define sole progenitor and human as something other than what traditional Christians understand those terms to mean and then pretend you are addressing the theological concerns of traditional belief with “science can’t demonstrate it’s not true.” But, I don’t buy it that the scenario you describe is any more palatable to YECs than the EC view that humans evolved and were at some point in history specially chosen to bear God’s image. The issues they have with scientific evidence aren’t really solved just by genealogy or special creation; they are physical death before the fall, all death not being a result of human sin, and common ancestry with animals in addition to hypothetical specially created Adam and Eve.

1 Like

It may be an option for those who are in the YEC camp solely because of Original Sin theology. If there is a way to have both Original Sin and evolution it may be a path forward for them.

That is probably the case for many YEC’s. However, I think there is a (tiny?) percentage of YEC’s that would be willing to accept evolution if there is a way to incorporate Original Sin.

1 Like

You can have original sin theology and federal headship with an evolved Adam and Eve chosen out of a population. (Have you never noticed our friend Antoine’s never-ending thread on original sin? He’s Roman Catholic, needs Augustinian original sin, and is fine with evolution.) The issue is with biblical literalism and concordism, not theology. If there are YECs who are seriously entertaining GAE, I have never met them. The people I know who seem interested are OECs and many of them like the idea for other people more than for themselves.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

This is a place for gracious dialogue about science and faith. Please read our FAQ/Guidelines before posting.