Introducing myself with an explanation of basic terminology like objective and absolute

(Christy Hemphill) #21

I think after the first 24 hours, during which time the computer overlords determine you are not bent on spamming destruction, there are no restrictions.

To quote people, just select the text in their post and click on the “quote” option that appears. You can do it multiple times in a single response and each quoted person will be notified, even if you are “replying” to someone else. You can also tag people using @ + their user name, which also sends a notification. If you hit the reply button under any post, it will notify the user of the post above the reply button. If you don’t want to reply to any one person and just want to reply to the topic in general, use the reply button at the very bottom of the page under the “This topic will close 6 days after the last reply” line.

I took the liberty of tagging people in your response so they will see it. If you ever want to edit a post, click on the pencil icon at the bottom. If you want to delete one, click on the three dots and then the garbage can.

So ends your whirlwind orientation.


Last I heard you considered yourself a Catholic. Has that changed recently? Have you been received into the Anglican communion? Note that to be a member of these various religions most other members must also consider you to be a member in somewhat good standing/

(Christy Hemphill) #23

There are Anglican fellowships in the US. They are under different bishops (often in Africa or Asia) than the Episcopalian churches, which are mainline. Anglican churches tend to be more conservative on some things.

(RiderOnTheClouds) #24

No, but I align most with Anglican theology.


What happened to Catholicism?

(Mitchell W McKain) #26

Perhaps I should say a few words about why I am here.

It comes from doing an internet search on the following:
What is the impact of accepting evolution on Christian theology?

But the reason for making this search was not because I cannot see the impact for myself. I have already explained in another thread that I couldn’t be a Christian without the theory of evolution – it provides the only adequate answer to the problem of evil and suffering, that I can see. The purpose of making the search was instead to explore how far Christianity has come in absorbing the facts of evolution. In another forum, I made the claim that Christianity has been a little slow in doing this. When I found this forum, I thought, great, here is a group of people actively exploring this. Unfortunately, what I found instead is only confirmation of my claim and that here too the resistance to accepting the facts of evolution continues and that Christians are still clinging to the defunct Watchmaker conception of the the Creator. I find it quite disappointing.

To explain… here is the choice as a see it…

  1. We have a God so obsessed with power and control that he is frankly a little difficult to distinguish from a devil. He creates out of a megalomaniacal grasping for his own glory and constructs the most disgusting torture chamber imaginable to consign any with a little bravery and self-respect to an eternity of torment. Since all he sees in his creations are tools to serve him then he wants nothing but craven worms and unthinking obedience. This wrath filled being cannot associate with any who are not perfect in their obedience to long list of petty rules, and forgiveness requires an infinite price before he can even consider it. This creature is logically incapable of love because love requires giving up control to others, giving privacy to others, giving responsibility to others – it means taking risks and SHARING.

  2. We have a God who values love and freedom more than power and control and this is why He creates life, which really serves no purpose if all you want are tools, for machines would be vastly superior in every way. This God knows very well that the only moral reason for creating life (in which death and suffering are unavoidable necessities) is unconditional love. Forgiveness is easy for Him and it is only limited by what is best for them, because like any parent He knows that cheap forgiveness does more harm than good. If He is angry it because He sees His children being abused. If He is exclusive, it is because false gods and religions are filled with so many practices which are horrific (like human sacrifice) or degrading (like temple prostitution). He walks among the sinful as a doctor offering healing, filled with sadness at the hell which His children are creating for themselves.

Now it seems to me that the only reason why someone would teach, believe and worship the first of these is that they also are obsessed with power and control and they have every intention of using religion to manipulate, intimidate and lord it over other people.

And what does evolution have to do with this. The watchmaker designer God is consistent with the first of these because all he intends to create are tools to serve him. But in evolution we have self-organization rather than design and this fits with the second of these who seeks those with whom He can share. As equals? Hardly! He is infinite and we are finite, except perhaps in our ability to accept and receive all that God has to give to us in an eternal relationship of love between parent and child.

And what does this have to do with Christianity? Well you see… there is this story… of a God who set aside everything of power and control to become a helpless human infant to grow up among us and then to suffer at our hands and give His life for our sake so that we can see Him as He truly is and what He really values – not power but love, not control but freedom.

(Randy) #27

Thanks. There are many nuances here, but helpful discussion of extremes.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #28

We aren’t here to keep “the resistance” out. Here in the U.S. there are many who very much resist any evolutionary science, and so it isn’t surprising that many should come to share their resistance to it here. It is an open forum.

There are also many here who do share your views and your appreciation for how evolutionary understandings have been of immense benefit. They may not always be the vocal ones always popping in here, but some are! So I hope you can still make yourself at home here despite the presence of many who come from a very different history with all these issues than you do. This is one of the few places they can interact with others like yourself and not be censored or shut down for failing to toe a certain party line.


I am remiss for failing to mention that you can see these issues explored (from points of view more like yours) quite well if you browse the published articles which will be more consistently “evolution-friendly”, though still not in agreement about everything or with Biologos, necessarily.

(Randy) #29

@mitchellmckain I think that we are all learning a lot. That’s why Biologos is a big tent. Discourse with mutual grace is one of the keys that I imagine you are looking for. I think that the moderators (and we) are trying to achieve that.

Leading to another tack–do you have thoughts on open theism and Oord? Would that be in your range?

My own tendency is to one type of Christianity, but I recognize that there are areas that I’m very deficient; my brothers in Reformed and other areas have much to teach me about grace, too. It’s a bit like the blind men examining the elephant. We do have a lot to learn from each other.

I appreciate your own discussion.

(Christy Hemphill) #30

A bit of a false dichotomy, don’t you think? Surely you don’t believe that in the vast diversity of global Christianity, Christians all fit in either one of these camps or the other? If you do, you need to get out more. :slight_smile:

(Mervin Bitikofer) #31

Well … there are only two types of people in the world:

  1. Those who think there are only two types of people, and
  2. Those who don’t. :sunglasses:

(Mitchell W McKain) #32

I do appreciate this. I really do. I know how important patience is in dealing with this. But… personally… I am so… tired of the endless dishonesty involved. I really really want to move on to the next step of digesting the implications and making it a part of Christianity. I think it is the difference between death and life for Christianity as whole.

As I say above, I am open theist. I hadn’t heard of Oord, but it doesn’t surprise me if we come to similar conclusions. I once had someone tell me that I sounded a lot like John Polkinghorne. I hadn’t heard of him at that time. But with both of us having a background in theoretical physics the similarities were understandable - not that we agree on everything – we don’t.

Yes. I am certainly NOT looking for any kind of uniformity of thought. I don’t really understand the Calvinists/Reformed and if anything that is a sign that diversity on that front is probably a good thing. Though I may never understand them. And as for my own deficiencies, I am well aware of the gaping holes there.

No I do not believe Christianity or different parts fit entirely into these two camps. But if you are asking whether there is room for a middle ground, the answer is no. There is no middle ground in the choice between good and evil. That is why I don’t understand your talk of “false dichotomy.” I said this is a choice. I will make no compromises with the devil. If God is ANYTHING like number one then I will go with Sisyphus in hopeless defiance - no compromise possible! I will certainly grovel like a worm out of fear of my own sin, or even in front of the lion (God) whom I have no delusion that I can control, but to a mob-boss like god who uses threats and fear as a tool to crush any opposition and expecting people to lay all integrity and morality at his feet? NO! I will never be that kind of worm. Like I have said elsewhere, there are Christian deities which I do not believe in, and I will side 100% with the atheists when it comes those particular conceptions.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #33

This sounds very “Lewisian” to me. He wrote somewhere that if it turned out that evil had the real power, and that a good God was somehow helplessly tied or unable to deliver, then would that be a time to switch sides? (A rhetorical question to which his answer was an unequivocal NO!).

So move ahead! Nobody will prevent you from doing so. Others may point out others who have done or are doing it. But the forum is always up for current substantive threads.

(Randy) #34

Absolutely! Like Socrates’ forum, this is for sharing. Asking questions is a good way to draw others out. Don’t expect everyone to agree–but that is how we learn from each other. That’s one of the benefits of Biologos, I think.

@mitchellmckain, Like Luther’s drunk falling off a horse on one side and then falling off the other, I can be excessively Puritanical (not that they were all wrong either) on both the conservative and progressive sides. Catch me if I step off too far one way or the other, and we can discuss how you’re wrong :slight_smile: (kidding)

(Randy) #35

What do you think of this website/blog about 5 criticisms of contemporary Christian apologetics?

(Mark D.) #36

Just gave it a quick scan and I think he is spot on. It would be interesting to compare what that author would say is the purpose of apologetics with what William Craig would say.

(Mark D.) #37

I think there is a danger of mistaking ones own transformation for the transformation of a group. A group is made up of individuals each with his own challenges and strengths. But especially I think you should avoid attributing other people’s struggles to simple dishonesty. Almost no one is knowingly dishonest. But suggesting that is a good way to shut down lines of communication.

Hopefully you can see how suggesting that those who won’t agree with you are being dishonest can at least look as though you are expecting uniformity of thought.

This is not likely to be a good ice breaker either. If you appreciate a forum where civility prevails I think you want to avoid this sort of statement. Of course no one is pushing for evil but you might find they have an honest disagreement with you about where the line between good and evil should be drawn. Their disagreement with you personally does not mean they are in league with the devil.

(Mitchell W McKain) #38

Like I said above, I don’t believe in proofs when it comes to the subjective arena including religion. I support none of the arguments for the existence of God and I frequently help atheists in showing how they lack any objective validity. Why?

  1. I don’t believe in a God whose existence can be proven in this way.
  2. I defend atheism as a perfectly rational alternative.
  3. Faith is essential and it is a choice.

I also don’t care much for debates because they are founded on some very shaky premises. First and foremost of these is the idea you can convince others you are right by rational argumentation. I don’t see that happening. Second is the idea you can reason your way to the truth. Logical coherence/consistency and seeking the rational consequence of your belief is the valid and valuable role of rationalization. But because you always have to start with premises, thinking you can use reason to establish the truth of your beliefs is delusional.

I don’t know if there is really any such thing as emotional intelligence. Gosh, this seems to be a new ideological cult sweeping through the U.S. education system.

The talk of tribalism sounds quite a bit like my own frequent discussion of my-side bias and treating these discussions like some kind of team sport.

As for the Bible, I will say it is the word of God, but by this I only mean that the intellectual rights belong to Him and nobody should be editing it as they please. I also support sola scriptura, but this only means that this is the sole authority which God as put into our hands and nothing more. In particular, I do not buy into inerrancy, biblicism, the really really absurd idea that all truths are to be found in the Bible (the doctrine of the Trinity being one rather obvious thing that embarassingly simply isn’t found there), and childish/willful literalism which I believe Jesus warned against in Matthew 13. As for triumphalism and excessive black-and-white one-dimensional thinking, these are criticisms which I usually speak of as a failing of ideologues.

As for apologetics in general, I guess I disagree with what many see as its objective. For me it would be the simple defense of the rationality of Christianity rather than the offensive argumentation for Christianity being the only things which is rational.

(Mitchell W McKain) #39

I am not saying that people are dishonest just because they disagree. I quite agree the tactic of attributing a difference in belief to mere dishonesty is abomnable. Some of the classics are theists claiming that atheists really believe in God but are just rebelling against Him and then there are the atheists claiming that theists are just lying whey they claim to know God exists.

BUT if you think discussions of this sort are without any serious and even blatant commissions of dishonesty then I think you whitewashing things a bit. People certainly can be honest in the defense of just about anything – I have already pointed out that the reason for this goes back to the fact that logic is founded on which premises you accept by choice. This is what makes a diversity of thought unavoidable.

I have no problem ending a discussion with a agreement to disagree. But often I cannot even get to that point because I encounter people who refuse to even be honest about what they believe. They lead you around in circles only interested in ridiculing the beliefs of others without exposing their own beliefs to the same standards. That is what gets really tiresome.

True – very much so. However, when they are the one pushing their conception of God on you then whether you speak of it or not, there remains a simple question about whether the difference between God and the devil is nothing but a name. I certainly do not think so. It is personality and behavior which matters to me. Perhaps there is a time when you have to choose between civility and honesty. I know, I know, this is an argument you have probably heard before from the fundamentalists themselves. This does not mean they are wrong. As I said above, I certainly believe in tolerance, but… not to the extent of tolerating intolerance, for example. All of these are difficult waters… to be sure.

(Andrew M. Wolfe) #40

Hi Mitchell,

Let me join the chorus of folks welcoming you to the Forum.

Again, not everyone here is hostile to your approach. I think there are some here that are open to exploring your approach with you even if they’re not tracking with you 100% yet. And there are others, yes, that would be opposed, but with that, you can always (if you really don’t want to bother with naysayers, even if they might sharpen your thinking) say, “This thread really isn’t for engaging with Calvinists, so please, if you’re of that theological persuasion, please move on.” From what I’ve seen, the mods do try to respect the wishes of the OP in such matters. So I would encourage you not to give up on us!

Apart from that, I wanted to share a resource with you of someone you remind me a lot of in the stark contrasts you sketch out above: Mako Nagasawa of the New Humanity Institute. Mako used to be with InterVarsity where he served on a lot of campuses in the Greater Boston Area. Like you, he passionately opposes a Calvinist view of God and promotes what he considers to be an older view of the atonement and of God’s character. You may find him to be a good fellow traveler for your journey.

Unfortunately, after quite a few minutes of searching, I can’t find a “search” button on the NHI website where I might type in “evolution” and see if Mako has addressed that head-on anywhere amongst his many other thoughtful articles on all sorts of things.

Note to Mitchell and others: I personally haven’t spent much time actually reading Mako’s writings, so this isn’t some sort of full-throated endorsement, but I tend to find his work very thoughtful and worth engaging, particularly if you’re coming from your background, Mitchell.

Lastly, Oord has been mentioned already, but just to make it super-easy for you, here’s a link to his most recent BioLogos blog post from a couple of years ago.