The Two Views (and a mix)

This needs a category “Systematic Theology”.

I begin with a take-off from another thread–

That’s the YEC approach, which violates something basic in systematic theology: the two views of anything or for that matter everything: the view from below, and the view from above. And I think the problem we’ve been having revolves around those.

When scientists, and people who understand science, speak about science, if they throw in talk about God then they’re not doing science any more – it doesn’t matter if they’re Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, or whatever. This is inherent to everything that falls into the category of the view from below: it involves what humans as we are can discover with our reason and senses. The view from below cannot include God because human senses and instruments and reasoning cannot find God.

When theologians start with the scriptures and summarize and expound on what is there, that is the view from above: it begins with the axiom that God is real and the scriptures are in one sense or another communication from and/or about Him.

The problem comes when someone tries to do “theology from below”. By its very nature, being a mix of the view from below and theology, it tends to go astray quite easily; also by its nature it leads to disagreements that cannot be resolved because they rest on different worldview – that, too, is the nature of the view from below; it rests entirely on human worldview(s).

What’s happening here is that when a statement that qualifies as view-from-below (VFB) gets made, others are responding to it as though it was view-from-above (VFA) or theology-from-below (TFB). This will inherently lead to disagreement because the two are not actually using the same words much of the time and definitely aren’t using the same concepts. Similarly, statements get made that are VFA but get responded to as though they are VFB or TFB – again, guaranteed to result in disagreements.

From reading back some, it appears that Richard is almost always doing TFB, mixing VFB and VFA, and as noted TFB is effectively an invitation to argument. Others are responding with VFB and occasionally VFA, but he always reads them as VFB, and he responds the same way.

The most common example of VFA has been my posts which stick to the text and don’t venture into science. There haven’t been a lot of those (partly thanks to the need to combine responses to multiple posts into single posts), nor have there been a lot of VFA from others. The arguments therefore appear to be TFB even if posts are actually VFB.

So when we’re writing it should be helpful to ask what kind of post is being made: is it merely science, and thus purely VFB? If that is made clear, then the responses to that post should all be VFB. Is it pure theology, i.e. VFA? Then neither VFB nor TFB can be a valid response. Is it science mixed with theology? Then it is TFB, regardless of whether the theology itself is TFB or is VFB; the mix drops the whole thing into TFB. If that is made clear, then if the science can be tugged clear of the theology then a response can be VFB.

I skipped the last logical option because it is quite frankly a mess: if the science and the theology are intertwined and cannot be pulled apart, then responses will appear to be TFB even if they’re meant as VFB, and the only solution there is to specify that a post is being made as VFB, no theology included, or concede that they are also TFB, or possibly to tug out some of the theology and respond with VFA.

This is clearly no wonder solution since some will not give up doing TFB, but it should help make things clearer. It should also establish that just because science does not include God it is not making a TFB statement, it is doing the only things humans can do when dealing with VFB!

Just for thoroughness, there’s another category, human philosophy. How it fits in to all this I’ll leave as an exercise for the reader.


I love this thread, not because there is any possible compromise but because it reasonably defines the irreconcilable differences between the inspired writings of God and, observational and theoretical interpretations of sinful/corruptible men!

I am not really sure what is being proposed here. As far as I am concerend either you are Christian or you aren’t. If you are then it should be 100% of your life. ( see Revelation : anything but luke warm)
If you are a Christian then what you say in public should reflect your faith. That exludes science by default.
It doesn’t matter what you do at work or what you might believe scientifically. That is your own affair but if you are speaking (writing) for public viewing then your faith should be visible.
I really do not care whether people here are scientists or not. What I argue against is anything that goes against my faith and whether you like it or not scientific evolution does just that because it excludes God. IOW (IMHO) Christians should not argue science at all let alone against a fellow Christian.

All this talk about viewing from above or below is just a smokescreen for not witnessing their faith.


It seems that your view of evolution is not what the science is teaching.

Science cannot say much about God because God cannot be inspected and measured, and the acts of God are not like natural laws that always act in the same way. You cannot study God by testing whether something (B) happens after doing something (A), for example a person always gets healed immediately after a prayer. Therefore, science focuses on observations and tries to predict what happens based on what is observed. If a hypothesis can predict what happens, that hypothesis gets support and is considered scientifically sound. It does not tell about God anything else than that God does not seem to interfere in every known case that follows the laws of nature - as believers, we can think that the laws of nature are the results of the creation done by God.

Biological evolution is just an observation that populations (gene pools) change with time and those changes are heritable. Assuming there is enough of time for changes, and the natural or sexual selection is not stabilizing (stabilizing = phenotypes that deviate from the average are more likely to leave less offspring than the average individuals), phenotypes may change so much that we call the altered forms a new species.
Observations suggest that currently dissimilar species had in the distant past a common ancestor but science does not tell anything about the existence of God. Even having common ancestors does not tell anything about the existence of God although it speaks against a particular interpretation of the creation story.

If science would make claims about God, then we might be against the scientific worldviews. As that does not happen, we do not have reasons to accuse the scientific understanding of biological evolution for being against the faith in God. It may testify against a particular interpretation of Bible, for example YEC, but that is not the same thing as being against God, faith or biblical scriptures.


Clear thinking and clear writing.

By that measure, Christians will never talk about sports, the weather, traffic, or a lot of other things.

As some wise person once noted, if your faith isn’t visible without talking about it, you need to examine your faith.

This is a perfect example of theology from below.

And that is a perfect example of one of the problems of TFB: it leads to unfounded accusations against fellow Christians.

The distinction between “from above” and “from below” is a tool for asking yourself whether you’re mixing your own views in with what the scriptures and the Creeds actually say. It isn’t a cure-all; it’s perfectly possible to be speaking within the view from above and insert personal opinion, but it’s helpful in examining one’s thoughts before turning them into words.


That’s a symptom of theology from below that I didn’t mention initially: it also leads to bad science.

Exactly: science is view-from-below stuff by necessity. And there’s another aspect of thinking clearly about this: Christians have to be humble enough to acknowledge that they are engaged in something that does not by nature – cannot by nature – talk about God. To others they may describe that what they do is an attempt to think God’s thoughts after Him, but the moment one starts mixing God in with science it’s not only a lack of humility, it makes Christians look stupid.

There’s a difference between talking science and talking about science. Talking science sticks to what human beings can ascertain with fallen intellect and wisdom and senses; talking about science is when witnessing for the faith comes in. It’s a difference I’m aware of when I’m out doing conservation work and someone asks about it: if they want the science, I’ll go into all the ecological aspects of dune ecology and transforming from a false ecology dominated by invasive species into a healthy ecology filled with native species, but if they want to know why I do it I can readily say that in my understanding God had the native ecology in mind for this place, so I’m trying to accomplish that, and if that doesn’t turn them off I can go back to the Garden account and the point it contains that we were put here to be caretakers of the Earth, to make it all garden-like.
That’s where the distinction between VFA and VFB really meets reality: keeping them clear means keeping people listening. It’s something that was pretty obvious when I was at university: groups that tried to hook people into listening to the Gospel by inserting God into a topic that was really view from below had people snorting and walking away, while those who didn’t go about it by trying to insert God into whatever subject got people sticking around to listen when there was an opportunity to present the Gospel.

Yes! That’s the definition of magic: do X and Y, and Z is supposed to happen. That turns God into a “service provider” with less dignity than Santa Claus: Santa at least has a list of who’s been naughty and who’s been nice!

Well put. I think it’s worth pointing out here something I’ve related before: even most of my science professors who were atheists willingly admitted that science can’t talk about God either way.
And there, BTW, is where science and faith can come together properly: when someone is making foolish claims either that science “proves” that God does or does not exist – though when I was in my university days the former rarely got an audience, when someone was spouting the latter it was easy to cut in and get the attention of someone’s entire audience with the question, “What tests do you have for God?”, a question that starts out as view-from-below and indeed insists that the VFB and VFA be kept distinct. And it’s an easy step to then share a personal belief in God – and that, if you happen to be a science student, the reason you study science is because you believe in God.

So, as I noted above, being aware of what kind of view you’re expressing, whether VFB, VFA, or TFB, is a tool for clear thinking – but it’s also a tool for clear witnessing.


Thanks for this thread! Hopefully it will get some… what’s the term I want… denialists(?) to more perceptively evaluate their thinking.


Where is God in science? Missing!
Therefore Scientific evolution does not include God, it excludes HIm

Science does not teach God, it can’t.

Even if you see God in evolution it is not in the science.

So, clearly, I fail to see your criticism


That may apply IRL but not on a forum. All people can see on a forum is what you write and a tag next to your name (if you include one). But the tag is only validated by what is written.

There can be no doubt about my faith.

You show yours when you talk about it. You also show disdain when you talk to me. That in itself is very telling.

There is no excuse for it.


PS As I do not accept your view theory you can argue it until you are blue in the face.but it will do no good.

Really. Even though they are stretched over eons, you deny that apparently radical changes in morphology and metabolism cannot be accomplished without God’s magical ‘poofing’. A classic denialism and exactly the erroneous mixing of VFA and VFB that @St.Roymond was talking about.

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You do it there, too (including the accusatory extremist language of the denialist, ‘our’ ‘desperation’, like a theory has personhood :roll_eyes:). You want to include VFA ‘factors’, right? You want to include God factors in VFB science, fallaciously conflating them.

what i find really interesting in this forum is that the TEists rarely talk using biblical references that actually support their claims. Instead, they descend to using moral argument and or logical reasoning.

The trouble is, our moral guide is biblical, and logical reasoning is from the corrupted/sinful minds of men.

Having resolved the above one must use relevant and consistent biblical references should support any of the arguments put forward by this thread!

So the more illogical, the more sanctified?


or the more logical, the more corrupt/sinful yes thats exactly what i am claiming. Im all ears to any Christian who is willing to argue that the minds of men are not corrupted/sinful…would you like to try?

note…you partially quoted a post where i made the comparison between human logic and biblical morallity…so it is with that in mind what i have written here!

What then explains your illogic?

the miracle of creation, the cross, and salvation…it isnt humanly logical…so that means its illogical for corrupted/sinful minds of men. Why else do you think Darwinian theory has been so quickly snapped up by virtually all atheists and agnostics? They need a replacement for the “illogical”?

You left out many, many Christians across centuries and other traditions besides the less than two-century old newbie SDAs. (And SDAs were not even Christian until they recognized the Trinity, not all that long ago.)

Because it reflects the reality of exactly how God created the marvelous diversity in nature. It does not depend upon demanding that the Bible, full of parables communicating theological realities, be scientifically correct in the 21st Century. That is illogical, right up there with flat-earthism idolatry.

Because like the antiquity of the cosmos, it reflects the reality of creation.

Did you even read the OP? You are doing exactly what he describes, conflating ‘VFB’ with ‘VFA’ while doing ‘TFB’.

While I would agree that revelation may go beyond the limitations of logic, it is quite another matter to deny reality. Reality is not only accessible, but inescapable to all. Science is just a method to ascertain reality in the material world, no more or less.


A very good parallel to this would be a parent looking out into the yard and not seeing their child, and immediately jumping to the conclusion that the child was abducted. But “missing” does not imply “abducted” and more than “does not include” implies “excludes”. Just as the child may be hiding from the parent for some reason, so also God is hiding from us – or at least the sacred writer thought He does!

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