Evolution is secularism, not science

So we have agreed on two major points so far:

  1. It is possible for genuine Christ-followers to have opinions on evolution that differ from yours (again, you contradicted yourself later, but let’s charitably say you really did mean this).

  2. God reveals Himself in nature.

I would now like to propose a new question.

  1. Is it a reasonable assumption that the Ph. D. scientists in this forum have a better understanding of the intricacies of God’s revelation of Himself through his works than you do?

You have obviously read quite a bit and I truly applaud that! But the scope of your reading seems limited by your preconceived notions. Not ONE of us here suggests that evolution is “GODLESS”. I (and numerous others here) believe that evolution is nothing but a tool in the hands of the Almighty God! I believe that God could have created everything in the universe instantaneously, but I also see the evidence that suggests otherwise.

I have a great deal of respect for scientists like Kurt Wise that do their best to scientifically defend their viewpoints. But I have also read Kurt Wise suggest that the continent of Australia was repopulated by animals that walked thousands of miles on flotsam “bridges” that were formed after the destruction of the Flood. The fact is that a high majority of Christian Ph. D. biologists (I’m only speaking for my own discipline, but many other stripes of scientists would agree!) accept evolution as a tool of God! This is not because they are blindly following along paths of their forebears, but because that is what the science, the Book of His Works, indicates!

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I’m going to jump into the conversation here. I would answer unequivocally, “Yes, they could and should in some particular area.” But your statement is too broad. Other PhD scientists may disagree with them. And it is easy to fail to see the forest for the trees.

In general, with time and effort, many bright and thoughtful people can achieve sufficient understanding to realize they can thoughtfully and intelligently disagree. I can hold informed conversation with a professional biochemist (well, unless they start getting into technical details I have not yet studied).

True. But when providence is invoked to explain everything, it becomes indistinguishable from naturalism. That’s what people are concerned about.

Now, if it was really true that this was our only option, then we’d have to deal with it. But when there is clear and (for many of us) compelling evidence that natural processes are 1) not adequate on their own and 2) the evidence indicates they were not the only thing going on, then we want to give credit where credit is due, to the one who is not only providential but also intentional and active in the history of our biosphere. Admittedly there are some who would reject science to embrace their view of God’s word, but I see no necessary conflict between God’s word and the actual data. I think Evolution needed help, and the Bible tells a little about that.

@Marty,

My dear friend… aren’t you making some of the same logical “leaps” as Grog?

There was nothing in @cwhenderson comments that support any of your concerns described here in this particular post:

  1. When he says God and evolution are sufficient, I don’t believe he ever implied that evolution without God is sufficient.

  2. I believe the only thing separating you from CW is that he may not believe Science has the scope to indicate which step of Evolution was God-Led/God-Made. I believe CW and I are in complete accord that the BioLogos view of Evolution includes complete Intention!

  3. This is usually the primary thing that BioLogos supporters dispute with ID follks.

  4. I’m one of the BioLogos categories of supporters who agrees that the natural laws of Evolution may not have been adequate to the entire task … so you could say that I am a “virtual ID” supporter … but then someone comes along and wrecks the beauty of that by insisting that Science can prove it, or that Speciation is impossible - - apparently even with God helping.

@Marty
Wouldn’t you agree that (4) of my comments above is particularly inconsistent? Why would someone argue for miraculous exceptions to Evolution (which is fine) … and then end his conversation by saying - - “and there’s no such thing as speciation”? Wouldn’t this be a pretty bizarre combination of positions to take? And yet we see it here all the time.

[ CW, if I have presented a sentence that doesn’t reflect your views, please correct me! ]

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Yes we seem to agree on this, but my original point dealt with a unique event, the creation of Adam. In this context, science cannot provide something that pertains to an action by God, and I think the many discussions on Adam and original sin show how much theological confusion results. If we accept that ToE cannot teach us on these matters, we may continue to discuss theodicy and related topics. But if we decide on the primacy of ToE we are left without a biblical basis for some important theological matters. I reject attempts to revise Christian theology to fit some fad derived from the sciences, and thus mundane points such as God sending rain, or directing uv rays, is a weak attempt to provide a narrative that eventually revises orthodox doctrine. I have said this matter requires detailed discussion and I have no choice but to give a lengthy reply.

I am not suggesting it is easy to maintain orthodoxy and also be informed by science, and I have stated this is a continuing discussion. The doctrine of creation has its roots in both eternity and time, spiritually and physically. Genesis points out that God created a separate place for Adam and Eve, and offered a possibility (eternal life) that was only possible within Eden. At the very least, within humanity is the possibility of deception, a seeking to satisfy its physical nature, The creation is theologically an integrated thing, and the prospect of a choice by Adam invokes a possibility for the entire creation - the wrong choice resulted in the fall, for all of the creation.

Spiritually humanity may look to the higher world which would realise the unity for the physical creation, but humanity could also desire the fruit of “the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” Upon this threshold of time, the intersection of the spiritually good, and the physically desirable, the destiny of humanity and nature is determined. “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil (Deut. 30:15).”

At the foundation of creation, all humanity is present as a multi-unity, as Adam, the all-human. All humanity shares a single nature actualized in the entire race. The discussion would involve personhood and community, and thus the possibility of original sin as the universal transgression of all humanity.

I quote, “Humanity, in a single, supra-temporal determination of its existence, which had the force of fate for the whole natural world, forsook “the tree of life” for the forbidden tree and fell into error and fragmentation, and thereby subjected the world to futility (cf. Rom. 8:20). Humanity …; instead of subduing nature as creation’s king, it became its slave, being subjected to the shackles of nature’s pitiless processes of life and death, eventually emerging within the evanescent cycles of evolution”.

No branch of science can provide these insights on humanity, nor should it seek to do so. ToE has promoted materialism because it deals with the physical - trying to pretend that evolution goes beyond simple physical matters is to indulge in self-delusion.

And how ridiculous to think that Jesus could still the winds, change water into wine, cause Gideon to defeat 10,000 midianites with a couple of hundred men, unreasonably create something from nothing, bring to life a man dead and rotting back to life, part the Red Sea, and even come to earth to take our place on the cross.

When a person is a scientist and is inundated with scientific understanding all of their adult lives within in a camp that cries “foul” at any hint that their historical science is sniffing around about this God-Creator-fellow, then in their minds, the gateway to their soul, they may begin to believe that historical truth of even the deep past where life began on earth can only be known via what is discoverable with our observations. With marsupials in Australia, if we have a God who can do the first paragraph stuff, then we have, hum, about a million more options for how this occurred than what our observations seem to want to think.

Read Jesus parable of the sower sometime…Jesus suggests that soil of a man’s heart and thinking is very important to consider about when a seed of truth is planted. Since the Bible speaks often about the difficulty for those wise in their own eyes and the rich to come to understand Him and His precepts, let alone the gospel, so those of us wise in our own eyes and well to do, do a very good and wise thing to humble ourselves like I believe Kurt Wise does in reverencing the words in the Bible that led us to Christ in the first place.

  1. Dr. Wise says science is a gift but it must have strict parameters in a role of being a determiner of truth and especially truth considering our beginnings.

  2. A theistic evolutionist borrows from the naturalistic world view which says science is absolutely a fine vehicle by which truth about our beginnings can be learned in the deep past and that since God and miracle are undiscoverable via science, a naturalistic explanation of life we must go (with for anyone who believes in God, giving Him a little pat on the back for taking that hideous credit for creation occurring on the back of pain, death, destruction of the weak and survival of the strong! This wholly goes against the grain of the character of God is as reported over and over in the Bible.

As a Christian, hands down I side with Dr. Kurt Wise. I have not decided about the age of the earth completely, but have decided to place my faith not upon what a few PhDs who make a living proclaiming what they observe as true about the deep past over prophets and apostles who were driven from their hometowns, stoned to death, lynched, beaten and beheaded proclaiming history from what they knew to be from the mouth of God! Without this source of truth we call the Bible being considered as being truly true, what fool would attempt to live the Christian life unless it offered some worldly reward which is not Christianity?

And ps not sure that Wise directly said about marsupials in Australia…there are several creationist theories with regard to rapid speciation out from a pre ordained genetic make up from even a single marsupial…This idea is much more reasonable than taking a blind leap of faith that this is a picture that proves we all evolved by chance energy and a little bit of God from a common decent soup of bacteria or something.

I think that’s what fits with the “Ironic Design hypothesis” proposed by @Argon :wink: (<-- notice the wink smiley to nullify Poe’s law!!):

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There are quite a few scientific reasons why I contend that evolution is a tool of the Almighty, and not THE creative process itself. Although I’m an educator, and not a true “Cell Biologist”, the sheer complexity and wonder of the inner workings of a cell suggest to me the chances of a functional cell developing without some divine guidance is virtually nil. So I contend that my views are very far from “indistinguishable from naturalism”.

My point to the post is that if a high majority of Christians in science support evolution, that’s a pretty good argument that they are not fools duped into believing a nefariously-propagated myth.

You are “preaching to the choir” and not coming to any conclusions that have not been presented here thousands of times before.

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Excellent choice of quotes, @Casper_Hesp!

My response to the writer would be short & sweet: The Evidence he thinks must exist … Does Exist … but is only discernible by and on the Hearts of humans.

Science cannot make this determination.

Thanks, @gbrooks9, you didn’t say anything I wouldn’t personally defend! Your point #2 is something I’ve tried to articulate here and elsewhere in the forums. [quote=“gbrooks9, post:69, topic:35680”]
I believe the only thing separating you from CW is that he may not believe Science has the scope to indicate which step of Evolution was God-Led/God-Made.
[/quote]

My strongest contention with scientists that align themselves as ID is the claim that there is more-or-less scientific proof of God’s direct intervention. I believe that there is strong evidence pointing to God’s involvement in creation, but following Him still requires a step of considerable faith.

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This quote is from a while back (last night) but it bothers me enough to comment. I am hoping that what you said is hyperbole and off the cuff ranting, and does not reflect your true belief. This statement essentially is that your faith is based on a particular interpretation of Genesis, an interpretation of man, and not on Jesus, and his saving grace, if I understand you correctly. It dates me, but it reminds me of the old hymn that states:
On Christ the solid rock I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand.

I can’t defend the whole hymn theologically, as not sure about that rightousness verse, but you get the idea. In any case, I would invite you to step back and look at the big picture to get perspective on faith.

Hi George,

Well stated, and I agree with you 100%. And IMO, it is just a different way if stating the same thing that Christian biologists say:

When you boil it down to its fundamentals, your statement and this statement are not really different.

Best,
Chris Falter

Hi Marty,

We don’t really think clearly about this issue. Every day we make decisions based on weather, gravity, material strength, work (in the physics sense), and so forth that seem very “natural.” Every time I look in my rear view mirror and see a truck tailgating me, I don’t consciously think about how God supernaturally upholds the laws of momentum and energy; I just try to find a way to pull into a different lane so the laws of momentum and energy don’t smash the rear of my vehicle.

It is good to take quiet moments to reflect on God’s providence over all of nature–the more frequently, the better. But I do not see any value in isolating some parts of nature as supposedly showing God’s direct intervention and others as merely showing His providence. They all show His providence, and they are all the result of His direct, creative activity.

I just think we should apply the same rules to biology that we apply to physics, climate, and chemistry. Chemists, Christians included, go about their chemistry research and write up their equations and publish papers that don’t say anything about God. But Christian chemists will subsequently marvel at how their discoveries show God’s marvelous creativity. wisdom, and providence.

In the same way, biologists, Christians included, should be able to go about their biology research, write up their findings, and publish papers that don’t say anything about God. But Christian biologists will subsequently marvel at how their discoveries show God’s marvelous creativity. wisdom, and providence.

Do you agree with me that Christian biologists should be treated the same way that Christian chemists (and physicists and climatologists, etc.) are treated?

Thanks,
Chris Falter

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I’m not so sure. Marty seems to be contending that physics, chemistry, and biology as we understand them cannot explain the origin of species that exist today.

From the metaphysical perspective, Marty is right. The questions of purpose and meaning do not get answered by natural sciences, and without addressing metaphysical issues no answer is satisfying or complete.

From the physical perspective, I respectfully disagree with Marty, and I venture to say that the vast majority of Christian scientists likewise disagree with him. A careful analysis of physics, chemistry, and biology does not reveal any gaps that can only be explained by supernatural intervention.

Peace,
Chris Falter

Thanks, @Chris_Falter, you make an important distinction that I wholeheartedly agree with.

@Chris_Falter,

You and I agree on so many things. But I was wondering if I read your recent posts correctly or not. Dare I say it? We might differ on one point:

Which of these three sentences is most like your position?

  1. God helped Evolution, and even the creation of life itself, achieve certain benchmarks in a timely way by providing the occasional miraculous intervention in what would otherwise have been a longer or more meandering chain of natural causes?

  2. God allowed the creation of life and its evolution to unfold per his natural law with virtually no miraculous interventions.

  3. It is likely that God had to bridge certain inevitable limits of natural causation by means of some miraculous deeds, in order to either have life created from non-life or, in order to provide normal speciation with some key attainments, or both.

If the sentence that is most like your position still needs editing to get it “all the way there”, please feel free to offer whatever changes suit you.

Thanks for your help!

Hi Greg,

Our friend Steve Schaffner is a Ph.D. physicist who now works in computational biology at the Broad Institute, a joint venture between Harvard and MIT. Here’s some more info.

You profoundly misunderstand what the theory you are criticizing actually states. This is not at all what the theory of evolution reveals about the origin of species, not even remotely close.

Let me repeat that: you have it completely, totally, absolutely wrong.

Furthermore…

You have been repeatedly told that your formulation of evolution is not in the least bit accurate.

And yet, you keep repeating the same lies about what evolution states. This is not charitable or wise behavior.

Again, your analogy reveals that you profoundly misunderstand the nature of what biology has discovered about the origin of species. Moreover, you are so far off that you need a lot of remedial study to get to the point where you would understand it. Are you willing to put in the work to get there?

Nope. If you understood Bayesian analysis, you would recognize that it is essential to determining whether a particular event is a miracle or simply the outworking of a natural process that God wonderfully upholds through His loving providence.

If you were willing to spend more time on understanding these mathematical concepts and less time writing on this forum, you could make progress. It would take a lot of work, but based on the amount of time you spend on this forum, I would say you could get it done in a few years if you invested your time wisely.

I believe that God created the universe and continues to uphold it by His loving power and providence. At the same time, He also endowed creation with a regularity, or law-like operation, and He gifted mankind with the ability to understand that law-like operation. We use the methods of science to understand that law-like operation.

When we understand that law-like operation, we can use it as a powerful tool to understand what happened in the past.

  • A forensic scientist can use DNA analysis to state with confidence that a defendant did or did not handle a murder weapon.
  • 23andMe.com can use your DNA to tell you about the ethnic roots of your family.
  • A geologist can study sedimentation layers to discern where the shoreline stood in the distant past.
  • A geophysicist can use the alignment of iron particles in igneous rocks to discern the strength and orientation of the earth’s magnetic field in the past.
  • A cabinet maker can examine a piece of wood to declare the species of tree that was cut down to make it. I would imagine that a cabinet maker could even make confident statements about the processing that turned the tree into the board, but I do not know enough about cabinetry to know how that works. I humbly admit that I would have to trust someone who loves wood and has studied the subject to tell me that information.

If it’s a waste of time to study biology, then it’s also a waste of time to study physics, chemistry, and medicine. If He did not endow His creation with law-like behaviors, then what’s the point of any scientific study?

Let me ask you a question: do you believe that the fact that God sometimes performs miraculous healings make it a waste of time to study medicine?

If your answer is no, it is not a waste of time to study medicine, then you should understand why it is not a waste of time to treat biological, paleontological, geological, and genetic data with a Bayesian analysis. Bayesian analysis is, after all, the bedrock of medical science.

Finally, allow me to point out that you are running away from answering a very simple question:

Peace,
Chris Falter

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Hi George the Second,

Good question. To me, though, asking that question is kind of like asking to what extent God is involved in my ability to walk down the street, or to what extent God is involved with the pattern of rainfall in Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania. I think of the issue more like this:

We can analyze natural phenomena based on law-like operations. This yields scientific explanations.

There is another level of analysis based on purpose and meaning. This yields theological explanations.

The two levels of analysis can have a productive dialog, but their different methodologies will always cause them to yield different types of insight.

Does that help?

Peace,
Chris

[quote=“Chris_Falter, post:82, topic:35680”] [quoting George quoting somebody else …]
[evolution] is … “ordained” by God, or “it shows how God uses chance”,
[/quote]

Actually Chris, @Jon_Garvey has hammered enough on this point (which I’ve settled into myself I think) that I agree ‘chance’ is not a tool so much as a human perspective. Or perhaps a “human retrospective” would have even more clarity. But I totally agree that God does use and is sovereign over all processes – and always has been according to orthodox Judeo-Christian teachings through history (contra to what I understand – or perhaps misunderstand @GJDS to be saying). He can dispute whether or not evolution is actually how Adam or any humans were created – which is a discussion then involving science. But once a Christian accepts that evolutionary processes actually are among the “facts on the ground”, it becomes incoherent to think that these are somehow uniquely excluded from God’s providential concern. I’m guessing that GJDS actually disputes the whole premise of that sentence (the so-called “facts on the ground”) but then is conflating that in with a theological objection. But I am here to be corrected as necessary.

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@Chris_Falter,

Does that help? Well, no. I’m perfectly in tune with the qualifications you are offering in your last post. But what I don’t have a read on is which preference is closest to yours?:

  1. Does God take a “hands off” stance regarding the Creation of Life and its subsequent Evolution … waiting for nature to produce whatever it produces?

  2. Or Does God plan all of it, at creation, with virtually no need for any miraculous interventions (< This is actually closest to my position)?

  3. Or Does God know the limits of natural law, and so he helps the Creation of Life and Evolution along with the occasional miraculous “hand up” - - like the ID view on flagella? (< I allow for this as a possible scenario, but don’t think Science can prove this).

So… in this posting, we’ve covered a full range:

  • God “relies genuine randomness, knowing eventually it will get him to where he wants Creation to be” (Option 1);

  • God “uses no randomness and precisely arranges Creation and Natural law to arrive where he wants Creation to be” (Option 2); and

  • God "uses no randomness and makes miracles here and there to arrive where he wants Creation to be (Option 3).

But let me add a 4th Option, just in case you or others are so inclined:

  • God "allows genuine randomness, but makes the occasional miracle to arrive where he wants Creation to be (Option 4).

To summarize the scope of these options:

  • They address “genuine randomness” vs. “natural lawfulness”;
  • They address “natural lawfulness” vs. “miraculous deeds”; and
  • They address a precise time table vs. God allowing for a more “open” system.

For the sake of Full Disclosure, my personal stance (which I also think is consistent with the BioLogos mission statements), is Option 3, with an acknowledged built-in flexibility, where the amount of miraculous deeds by God could range from ONE (the Big Bang), to MILLIONS (to keep all those galaxies heading in the right direction).

As before, Chris, if the statement that best suits you needs some editing, please feel free.

I’ll go with Option 4, George. And I go there because of how I see the data, not AFAICT because of any particular theological bent.

But I’m not sure why you offer Option 3 which only differs from 4 on whether randomness is allowed, and I think everyone (even perhaps YECs with variation after the ark) would accept randomness and variation and geographic speciation. It’s just that Evolution looks to me from the data like a generally weak and slow process, and it needed help to handle some hurdles. Origins of Life is, of course, before Evolution, but it looks to me absurd to suggest life started on its own.

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