My ID Challenge

Are you following Jim’s blog series this week? This is the very issue being addressed.

I appreciate your answer, but if I am hearing you correctly, you do not really buy into evolution. I am learning that evolution unfolds through purely natural processes. You seem to be saying that this is not so. If you are saying that there is something more than natural process, then that could be evidence for God, but it would have to mean that evolution is not true.

Thanks

My experience differs from yours. I went through a non-religious education system and evolution (Darwin) was one of a number of theories that we as students debated. Some eventually put so much focus on TOE that they disregarded established science - we argued they did this not based on scientific grounds, but because as atheists, they needed to place there faith is something materialistic that sounded scientific. Their main response was to criticise religion in general and especially Christianity which explicitly teaches God created the heavens and earth.

Anti-religious atheists, in my experience, often adopt an extreme materialistic belief, and they rely on the TOE to sustain their outlook. Most scientist I know either see TOE as just another area of science, or prefer to regard its overall impact as a belief system. In either case, it has not carried such weight regarding the physical sciences, to cause me any concern.

I think the problems (to put it in this language) stem from arguments put both by anti-theists, and religious people who make TOE central regarding their outlook on faith vs science (i.e. often regarded as fundamentalists of creationists).

Our understanding of God stems from revelation and faith in Crist - science has never been an enemy in this regard.

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young Joe: That’s right. I am interested first and foremost in what is true. Until I began to learn the TOE, I accepted stories like yours at face value, but let’s face it: buddhists, hindus, and even atheists, claim to have spiritual experiences and transformations. I also accepted that God is real because it made sense. But the TOE clearly says that God is not necessary. And it also says that life unfolded in a manner that cannot be reconciled with how the Bible says it unfolded.

old Joe: It was a process. It is fair to say that as a youth, I was a spiritual corpse among many corpses; dead in the pews. When I became convinced that life required a Creator, I did not immediately go back to the God of the Bible. I began a search for my Creator. Again, the evidence was primary. And it was the evidence for the Resurrection that finally convinced me. My heart was the last thing to come around Christy. But when it did, He began working mightily in my life. Today, I am more alive than I ever was, and my personal experiences with Him are amazing.

But none of that was possible as long as I believed that evolution was true.

I will try to look into it as time permits. This has been a very busy week for me. Thanks

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Well said. We (in the church) have been trying for decades to “give students the tools they need” to survive in post-secondary education. We attempt to fill their minds with apologetics and dubious science expecting them to miraculously “stand up to godless, atheist professors with a bent to destroy the faith of students” (“God’s Not Dead”?). There may be a minority of professors like this–a small minority. I’ve heard one or two first-hand stories. But even if this were the case, what are the chances of a first or second-year student successfully standing down a professor with a Ph.D. and years of experience in his field based on youth group level material?

Not only is it unlikely, but we’re actually setting up our students to fail!

We say that the center and foundation of Christianity is relationship with Jesus, but then our discipleship material begins with apologetics!

My story: yes, I struggled in university to bring together what I had learned about scripture and what I was learning about science. I survived. How? Regular daily devotions and engagement in my local church. Relationship.

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That’s a narrow definition of evolution. Whether it happened with or without intervention, though, is not a scientific claim. It’s a metaphysical claim.

This is an enjoyable and enlightening post. I have to admit that while I am in the ET camp for the most part, there are some aspects of ID that are attractive, and my feeling is that evolution is essentially ID on another level, reflecting Proverbs 16:33 -We may throw the dice, but the LORD determines how they fall.

Thanks for your input. Yes, your experience was different that mine. And for me (as well as many others) the TOE was a central issue for my worldview. I didn’t have to make it central. It was central by nature.

The truth is that most young people will, on the threshold of adulthood, begin to naturally question things they have been brought up to believe. Often times this will coincide with going off to college and being away from family and friends for the first time. it will also coincide with their being taught the TOE. In this caustic crossroads, many (I being one) will find themselves in a crisis of faith, and some (I being one) will emerge from that crisis as atheists. My wife never experienced that crisis. You obviously did not either. But many will.

Eddie, (I respond to your post with the gentle reminder that the intention of this topic is to provide an opportunity for the EC or TE to council youngsters being exposed to the TOE, represented by me as I went through my actual faith crisis in 1974)…

…Therefore, yes, we are definitely using different definitions of evolution. I am referring to the TOE. Forgive me, I thought that was obvious. You have invoked Behe in both of your posts. Behe, while believing in naturalistic evolution, will never be a poster child for the TOE. Indeed, he is recognized first and foremost as a biochemist who has made groundbreaking contribution to ID. He presents well researched, documented evidence that there are strict limits to what naturalistic evolution is capable of (see “The Edge of Evolution”), and maintains that the evidence points clearly to the necessity of a Creator of life. Had I been exposed to the work of Behe alongside the TOE, it is possible that I would have never become an atheist. Indeed, exposure to his work (and the work of others, to include Denton) is eventually what saved me from the atheistic worldview.

I think you are looking for a fight that you don’t really need to pick here. If you believe in a form of guided evolution a’la Behe, rooted firmly in the conviction that the information and technology of life manifest clear design and the necessity for a Creator, then great!

Could part of the problem be sheltering young people from the theory of evolution in the first place? Or only ever presenting it as something to be destroyed via sketchy apologetics based mainly on a collection of “zingers” that betray a lack of real understanding of the science involved? I agree that someone who had no exposure to evolutionary theory other than in the context of “it’s lies from the Devil” will have issues when they get to college. But I don’t think those issues are brought on by evolutionary theory so much as an unfortunately narrow-minded upbringing that leaves out important parts of science education.

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@deliberateresult

I hear you saying that natural or nature means without God. Clearly that is what dualistic nonbelievers want us to think. However my Bible says that God created the whole of nature, the sun, the moon, the rain, and the grass. Thus there is no contradiction be tween God creating evolution and evolution creating humanity just as it created grass and insects.

God has plenty to do trying to keep us humans in line without worrying about the frogs, although God does care about frogs too. I’m just saying that God does not have worry about unemployment and we don’t have to worry about God.

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I Peter 3:15 Sanctify the Lord Jesus in your heart and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you for the hope that is in you…"

I am truly glad that you survived your struggles. Not all have. I didn’t. Others I know didn’t.

The late Wil Provine is one who didn’t. From an evangelical home, he went to college and studying biology, he became deeply troubled that he could find no purpose in the process of evolution. He brought his concern to one of his biology professors who offered him a challenge: study evolution well. If you find any purpose at all in the process, you come to me and point it out. Provine was unable to find that purpose and became an atheist. He also became a biology professor and for decades he taught evolution to incoming freshmen. He publicly declared that his goal with this class was to turn Christians into atheists. He boasted a success rate over 50%

Is this a rare thing? I don’t know. How bad does it have to be before you will concede that it is a problem? Another professor, David Barash, gave an interview to the NY Times a few months ago where he was interviewed about what he calls 'The talk," which he gives to his students every semester. In this talk, he lays it on the line for these students: If you believe in God, you will be learning things that are true, but contradict what you believe. You are going to have to choose whether you believe in “science” or God.

You don’t have to stand down an atheist professor. But you had better stand up. If you don’t, you can very easily be knocked down. I am much more concerned about not setting our students up to fall than about not setting them up to fail.

No, people typically understand it to refer to the modern evolutionary synthesis. This is so well recognized that even in the public media it is identified simply as “evolution”, not “The modern neo-Darwinist evolutionary synthesis”.

James…I would encourage you to consider the information and technology upon which all life, to include the simplest know single cell organism, depends. Both the information of life and the technology of life far exceed anything we have been able to encounter. There is one and only one reasonable candidate for the existence of such information and such technology: intelligent agency. I urge you to celebrate this evidence and put your focus there. Darwin turns believers into atheists. ID has the opposite effect: it can turn atheists into believers

My first exposure to evolution came in college. The same is true for others. Your simplistic caricature of legitimate science based opposition to the TOE may allow you to keep your blinders on, but it is not rooted in reality.

Sorry If I am coming across harshly here, but this is how I reply to patronizing condescension.

This is indeed the problem. When Christians teach Christians that evolution is incompatible with belief in God, then those Christians are responsible when the individual becomes an atheist after accepting the evidence for evolution. Christians don’t get turned into atheists by being taught “Evolution is compatible with belief in God”.

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You can stand up without “standing up against your professor.” I think it’s okay to stand quietly.

I also have no problem with professors teaching what they believe is true. As a Christian I was faced with things that contracted what I believed to be true…and some of those things that I believed to be true were false. It was in secular university that I learned about source material for biblical texts. When I pursued theological training, it turned out that this information, that challenged what I had believed to be true, was actually theologically kosher! Go figure…

My youth group and younger church experience had led me to believe what wasn’t true because, although it wasn’t taught explicitly, it was communicated implicitly.

Again, helping our students stand has more to do with giving them the tools maintain and strengthen their relationships with God than with giving them inadequate intellectual tools. Further, the students that engage well with the intellectual tools are a minority. Many people, given apologetic information, are simply “confident that a smart person ‘on my side’ has the answers” rather than actually comprehending, remembering, and internalizing what those arguments actually are.

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

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