What divides Christians from "mainstream science"?


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #1

What divides Christians from mainstream science?

Two issues come to mind.

The first is Design. Christians believe that the Creation has order based on design. Because of the dispute over ID many scientists seem to argue that the universe has no design, even though many scientists say they are filled with awe over the marvelous design of the universe.

Whereas scientists can be blamed for wanting to have it both ways, Christians have not pressed their claim of design past ID which is an unproven and faulty expression of how God implements God’s design.

I understand that BioLogos affirms that God did design the universe, but is quiet about how God implements this design.

The second issue that divides Christianity from science is teleology. Teleology is identified with Aristotle, and it is probably through Thomas Aquinas that it became incorporated into Christian theology. While it has pagan origin, no one can say that Christians do not believe that life has purpose and meaning. Because science has taken a materialistic view of reality it generally has denied that life has purpose and meaning.

One might say that this makes some sense when discussing the physical universe, however it makes no sense when discussing the bio universe which includes humans. Again I expect that there are some good reasons that scientists rejected Aristotelian teleology, but it must be replaced by a creative understanding the meaning and purpose of the universe for life to be rational again.

Third, by and large Christians have a dualistic Western world view based on mind and body. Many scientists have accepted a monistic relativistic world view based on the physical alone. These two world views are not reconcilable except by a complex/one relational world view.

Thus while I would not say that there is a war between science and religion, I would say that the gap is serious and can not be papered over by a better understanding of science or Christianity, but by reconciliation through a new understanding of the nature of our universe that needs to come first of all from theology, that is from The GOD Who RELATES.


White bearded man in the sky
Is There a War on Science? Reflecting on National Geographic’s Cover Story | The BioLogos Forum
#2

Well said, Roger. I would add to your excellent comments, that many scientists are also dualistic in that they treat their science as purely materialistic, and their personal life with much more purpose and meaning. I would not buy into the assumption that Christianity is divided from science. Most of the early significant scientific discoveries were made by Christians (eg. Newton, Galileo). Even the men on the space mission to the moon included some Christians who did not hide their faith. Much of scientific discovery was based on the premise of a created, orderly universe that had certain verifiable laws created into it. But yes, in our present day, many scientists have created a separation between science and religion because of their materialism perspective.


#3

Hi @Relates

However, scientists do not proclaim that “the universe has no design,” but rather, that the universe was not designed by an intelligent designer. There is a difference. And scientists do not want to have it one way, the other way, or both ways. Scientists present the evidence as nature reveals it. Scientists are filled with awe over the marvelous design of the universe as any other person who has a deep connection with life and nature. But this does not necessarily imply that the universe was created by an intelligent designer.

“In vitalist philosophy, before phenomena move toward certain goals of self-realization they are initially guided by mechanical forces.” In this deterministic context, the definition of teleology implies that “final causes exist.” The definition of teleology also implies that “purpose and design” are a part of or are apparent in nature. Therefore, “final causes” can have different forms, and levels, of consciously intentional “purpose and design”—the universe is “conscious” in an anthropomorphic sense. However, that “final causes” exist [should not] unquestionably suggest that they have “purpose and design,” in that conscious intention is involved. Final causes can also have “purpose and design,” in that they are influenced and determined, or, given direction or tendency to by mechanical forces. (Note that the reference to different levels of conscious intention necessarily includes the primitive “instinctive behaviors” of earlier, or baser, forms of life). The origin of life clearly presents the borderline between strictly deterministic mechanical forces and different levels of consciously intentional “purpose and design.” We should rest assured and be of the opinion that [this] is the intimate point where intelligent design should be considered to have emerged—with the formation (creation) of life on earth, through deterministically directed mechanical forces, [life itself] becomes intelligent to design and evolve itself into the various species of our world.

During the Dover Trial on intelligent design evidence for irreducible complexity was presented before the court and shown to be myth. According to Behe’s reasoning, if any one part of the bacterial flagellum “motor” was missing it could not function. He therefore believed it could not have evolved, but rather, was designed fully assembled. However, this was found to be a false assumption. As part of his testimony Behe also wrongly attributed biologist David DeRosier’s statement in the 1998 “Cell” article, entitled—The Turn of the Screw: The Bacterial Flagellum Motor, that the Bacterial Flagellum Motor was designed. In the journal, David DeRosier writes—“More so than other motors, the flagellum resembles a machine designed by a human.” DeRosier later affirms, “What I wrote was that this machine looks like it was designed by a human—but that doesn’t mean that it was designed—that is by intelligent design.” He said, “This, more, has the earmarks that it arose by evolution.” It’s interesting, isn’t it, that even DeRosier feels compelled to distinguish between—designed (determined mechanical forces) from designed (intelligent design).

However, your assertion is wrong. BioLogos [has] expressed its position of how God implements this design.

Here’s a relevant quote from James Stump taken from the comments section of the article posted by Deborah Haarsma—What Americans Think and Feel about Evolution:

“Divine action—and the action of agents in general—is notoriously difficult. The absence of a clear and compelling rigorous account of it does not distinguish BioLogos from any other organization I know of. Still, we are well aware that we need to be able to speak to the problem. This issue, like historical Adam and Eve and the Fall, is not one that we’re going to rush into and squelch discussion by mandating an official position for those in our community. But in broad strokes, we’re not deists; we believe that God is “mightily hands-on” to use Jeff Schloss’s phrase (http://biologos.org/resources/multimedia/mightily-hands-on). We believe God intentionally created human beings in his image. But we are suspicious of accounts of the providential action of God (I’m not addressing miracles here) that treats it as just one of the causes that scientific inquiry discovers and catalogs. There is something more going on in the world than science can detect, yet scientific explanations might very well be complete within their domain.”

At this point a more in-depth comprehension of philosophic principles is required to procure a specialized understanding to fully illuminate the landscape for dictating the final dissertation on the metaphysics. As James Stump asserts, “Divine action—and the action of agents in general—is notoriously difficult.” Nevertheless, the BioLogos position is clearly presented, "…in broad strokes, we’re not deists; we believe that God is “mightily hands-on.” Mightily hands-on denotes a “steering” towards a certain goal and purpose—in other words, intention. Therefore, as one of their spokespersons, we can extrapolate from James Stump’s declaration that the BioLogos official position [is] teleological in nature, regardless of his statement that—“The issue…is not one that we’re going to rush into and squelch discussion by mandating an official position for those in our community.” One must be able to read between the lines to correctly interpret what’s really being said.


#4

Interesting thought you postulate, that a design does not require an intelligent designer… “Intelligent” defined as simply “thinking with reason”, and not defined as superior genius, would seem to be required for a design, wouldn’t it, since a mindless, unthinking, unreasonable pattern, would not be considered a design. The definition of design would require a designer, or it would simply be a lucky accident, not a design. The question is, which is it? lucky accident, or undeniable design? combination of both? Criteria for decision?


#5

@johnZ

I believe my comment clearly detailed what my view of evolutionary creationism is. There is no lucky accident involved in the process—everything in nature is determined by preceding events and states of affairs.

Determinism: the principle in classical mechanics that the values of dynamic variables of a system and of the forces acting on the system at a given time, completely determine the values of the variables at any later time.

Determined Mechanical Forces > The Physical Universe > Life > Intelligent Design Through Evolution > The Spiritual Universe (The World of Mind/ The Mental World) > Human Ability to Influence and Mold the Spiritual and Physical Universe


#6

No lucky accident. Determinism by material events. Like a watch that runs on its own. Blind watchmaker? or a watch without a maker?


#7

God is self-sufficient… is He not?

Self-sufficient: able to supply one’s own or its own needs without external assistance.

I wouldn’t call God blind either–remember… there is no accident. The watch is in the maker, and the maker is in the watch.


#8

Tony, you have raised some good points. God is self-sufficient. But the watch is not. Although the watch appears to be self sufficient, running on its own, still we know it didn’t make itself, nor is it changing from a watch to a grandfather clock. To say that the watch is in the maker (not sure I agree with this, but let’s not dispute this for the moment) still would seem to be different than saying the watch is part of the maker. Ie. If I swallow a watch, it is in me, but still external to my being. It can only really become part of me, by no longer being a watch. Is God in the watch. Yes, perhaps like I might be in a house I build. But that really doesn’t say how I have built the house, or whether I am still building it, or whether it is building itself, or whether I am simply observing the contractors I have hired. It doesn’t solve the problem, nor simplify the answer.

An analogy helps to explain an idea, but it doesn’t prove the idea, nor does it give evidence for the idea.

So you say that God started creation, he is not blind, he maintains it? Concretely, then, how is God’s presence different from his absence in this situation? Is there evidence that God is still present? Are the mutations not random then? How do we know?


#9

@johnZ

That the watch is part of the maker and the maker is part of the watch seems to sound better. That the watch is in the maker and that the maker is in the watch is more descriptive though. If you have read some of my other comments, in other threads, you probably know where I am coming from with this analogy. Specifically where panentheism states that—“The cosmos exists within God, who in turn “pervades” or is “in” the cosmos.”

"Panentheism (from Greek πᾶν (pân) “all”; ἐν (en) “in”; and θεός (Theós) “God”; “all-in-God”) is a belief system which posits that God exists and interpenetrates every part of nature, and timelessly extends beyond as well. Panentheism is distinguished from pantheism, which holds that God is synonymous with the material universe.

In panentheism, God is not exactly viewed as the creator or demiurge but the eternal animating force behind the universe, with the universe as nothing more than the manifest part of God. The cosmos exists within God, who in turn “pervades” or is “in” the cosmos. While pantheism asserts that God and the universe are coextensive, panentheism claims that God is greater than the universe and that the universe is contained within God. Panentheism holds that God is the “supreme affect and effect” of the universe."

http://www.reference.com/browse/wiki/Panentheism

If you are interested in understanding why I make these claims, a specific and lengthy discussion was had on these matters beginning here Fine Tuning and Teleology and continuing here Panentheism vs. Theism

“If I swallow a watch, it is in me, but still external to my being. It can only really become part of me, by no longer being a watch.”

In relation with God… God is pure energy. Pure energy occupies all physical matter. All physical matter is what makes up the periodic table of elements. The periodic table of elements consists of all the different known types of atoms in the physical universe. All the known different types of atoms in the physical universe are occupied by pure energy (God). The mass-energy equivalence known as Einstein’s equation E=MC2 states that mass and energy are two sides of the same coin. One does not exist without the other—all mass is energy, and all energy shows evidence as mass. Hence I believe your example, “If I swallow a watch” is not realistic, since the watch is made up of atoms (energy and matter) and, so is your body made up of atoms (energy and matter). So, your statement “If I swallow a watch, it is in me, but still external to my being. It can only really become part of me, by no longer being a watch” is not applicable to the relationship between God and the universe. In relation to God and the universe—all energy is in matter, and, all matter is in energy. In your example—some energy and matter (the watch) is in some energy and matter (your body), however—the energy and matter (the watch) is still external to your being because (the watch) and (your body) have individual distinct being. This individualism does not change the fact that all energy contains matter and all matter contains energy. Another way that this can be described is to say that the watch has being and has energy, and your body has being and has energy. And one thing that has being (the watch) is inside another thing that has being (your body), thus, one thing (the watch) is still separate from the other thing (your body). However, the universe, as a whole—has being and has energy. The universe, as a whole, is not separate from any other thing, and, no other thing, as a whole, is separate from the universe, because there is no other thing. Everything is in God, and God is in everything—even though some things are inside other things.

“Is God in the watch. Yes, perhaps like I might be in a house I build. But that really doesn’t say how I have built the house, or whether I am still building it, or whether it is building itself, or whether I am simply observing the contractors I have hired. It doesn’t solve the problem, nor simplify the answer.”

“An analogy helps to explain an idea, but it doesn’t prove the idea, nor does it give evidence for the idea.”

These questions were dealt with, above, in the post to Roger:

“So you say that God started creation, he is not blind, he maintains it? Concretely, then, how is God’s presence different from his absence in this situation? Is there evidence that God is still present? Are the mutations not random then? How do we know?”

God’s presence is different from his absence in that with his presence we can experience existence. Without his presence we would not experience existence. Descartes stated, “I think therefore I am.” This is supportive evidence that God is still present, since we can experience existence. The mutations are only random within the stochastic process that they engage in. We know this because all the evidence points to the fact that we live in a cause and effect universe—the universe is rational and intelligible.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #10

Tony,

In my opinion design is always rational and thus the product of an intelligence. I understand that there are people who maintain a humanist, philosophical atheism, who maintain that the universe is rational and has meaning, but do not attribute this to an intelligent Creator God. This is not the issue I am addressing.

Monod and Dawkins both say that the universe has no design, but only the appearance of design. Again if something looks like it is designed, acts like it is designed, and best understood as operating under rational rules is designed. The problem of course with evolution is that it is not understood as operating under rational rules. Darwinism claims that it works by random chance of survival of the fittest, thus claiming that the world is not designed and not rational.

BioLogos says that God created the universe and humans through natural means, but has refused to explain how God has been able to do this as I have said. My point is that we Christians need to discuss this if we are to engage in a responsible dialogue with others and teleology is an important aspect of this discussion. I also offered my views for a basis of that discussion.

You have offered your view as a part of the discussion, which is evolution is the result of “determined mechanical forces.” The problem with words like “determined” and “selection” is that they strongly imply rationality, rather than chance. Thus natural indicates that nature can select based on a rational basis which alleles to allow to survive and flourish to produce the best ecology for the earth.

To say that evolution is determined by mechanistic forces for no reason or purpose is just untrue. Life does have meaning and purpose. What is true is that we are discussing issues on the boundaries of science, philosophy, and theology. To ignore this crucial fact is impossible, so we need to take the bull by the horns, so to speak, and be clear about the issues and problems, so we can have an open and honest discussion. We also must be clear that Christians should not be telling scientists what to believe, but discussion how humans know what is real and true.

The basis of your thinking is that humans live in a deterministic universe, even though quantum physics and other trends in thought point to a universe which is not deterministic. Humans are not determined. We have the freedom to make decisions and change our lives.


#11

Yes, the universe appears to the rational mind to be intelligible (understandable). But, to some rational minds it also appears to be designed, while to other minds it is random and accidental. And to some minds, the universe is not understandable at all. In all ways, man experiences this universe, but his opinion of his experience differs from other men… and thus some men, whom I would not agree with, would argue that we can experience the material world without a presence of any god. But our knowledge of God depends on our experience of God, which is dependant on the holy spirit within us. Some do not experience that due to lack of the Spirit. Hmm.

Is God pure energy? We might think so, but then God is so much more than that. Energy as we measure it is a concept limited by our experience. And we cannot measure God. In addition, God can create things outside of himself, and has done so. In the beginning, God created the light, which I take to be energy in a form we can relate to. Before the beginning, the light (energy) was not created, apparently. God is not limited by the material, and exists outside of the material, even though he may by choice exist inside of it. Even without energy or the material world, God would still exist. This is as I see it, and as scripture indicates.


#12

@Relates

I suspect that you must also be aware that this humanist, philosophical atheism that I maintain is strictly based on an in-depth investigative research of the Holy Scriptures of the Judeo-Christian faith, and their mutual correlation with scientific tenets and philosophical objectives. As with all investigative research of this magnitude it involves critical thinking based on scientific facts, and scientific theories, that have been verified by empirical evidence. Logical philosophical assessment confirms that these theories are based on a solid analytical foundation. I am confident that there are many other evolutionary creationists who similarly hold this worldview that I present here today.

In the Judeo-Christian tradition God is understood as being eternal. Panentheism does not conflict with this view. It also respects the principles of God’s transcendence and immanence associated with traditional theism. In the words of one Panentheistic proponent—“The relationship between God and the world is like the relationship among the members of the Trinity in that it involves relationships and communities” [communities: similar character; agreement; identity] (Molnar 1990, 674). I present these central points with which supportive claims will be introduced and assessed to confirm the underlying logical assessment of this interpretation of the Holy Scriptures and of the Judeo-Christian faith. http://www.reference.com/browse/wiki/Panentheism http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/panentheism/

In the beginning, the “supreme affect and effect” of the universe (the eternal animating force)—what theists put out as the (white haired bearded man in the sky god)—caused the universe and the earth to be. The eternal animating force is not the intelligent being designer (god) that theists would have us believe. In philosophical terms, the eternal animating force [has being]—it is not a being. It also has some form of “supernatural intelligence” (so to speak), and [s]hould be respected as such—I mean… do theists actually believe that evolutionary creationist don’t appreciate and respect the awesome power that established the universe, or, the magnificent beauty nature displays in all its splendor. Or, perhaps it’s that theists would have it that we revert to delusive doctrines once again.

If the irrefutable fact is understood for what it is—that there is no (white haired bearded man in the sky god), then it follows that it shouldn’t be too difficult to put together the rest of the puzzle—Christ will return from amongst mankind to establish His Kingdom. Accordingly, to fulfill the Biblical narrative, the only logical conclusion that makes any sense is that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit of the Triune God are none other than Adam, Jesus, and the Third Person of the Trinity. The Revelation states, “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven (The Spiritual Plane) from my God: and I will write upon him my new name” (Revelation 3:12). The important point to make here is that the same Spirit that inhabited Adam, and Jesus, is the same Spirit that will inhabit the Third Person of the Trinity, although—He will have a new name.

Wikipedia states, “According to genetic and fossil evidence, archaic Homo sapiens evolved to anatomically modern humans solely in Africa, between 200,000 and 100,000 years ago, with members of one branch leaving Africa by 60,000 years ago and over time replacing earlier human populations such as Neanderthals and Homo Erectus.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo_sapiens

An interesting correlation is that, “Stephen Anderson states that the age of spoken languages is estimated at 60,000 to 100,000 years,” occurring around the same time period of the members of one branch of anatomically modern humans leaving Africa. Moreover, if the writers of the Bible painstakingly took the appropriate measures to make sure that the lineage of Adam was meticulously recorded—as documented in the Hebrew Scriptures—perhaps, approximately 6000 years ago, as the Bible indicates, Adam—as the Father of one family line from the branch leaving Africa, is the point where man developed conscious awareness of the Higher Self—Yahuwah. It would make sense that language be developed first since, “Language is the human ability to acquire and use complex systems of communication.” An important consideration is that, “Thinkers such as Rousseau have argued that language originated from emotions while others like Kant have held that it originated from rational and logical thought. 20th-century philosophers such as Wittgenstein argued that philosophy is really the study of language.” It is logical to conclude that the capability of rationalization (language) be required to be able to think critically and understand that we can communicate with our Higher Self—Yahuwah. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language

The resurrection is another important point of contention that is not competently understood. Biblical claims on the Resurrection and/or religious interpretation by organized religion and/or individual interpretation thereof are problematic—to put it lightly—and do not conform to rational empirical scientific facts. Others here in the BioLogos community have had similar opinions—rightfully so! The whole discussion concerning John Polkinghorne’s women finding the body of Jesus before the men did creates a situation of leading individuals on a wild goose chase. Perhaps it’s more like the dog chasing its tail. If the women found the body first, or, if it was the men—makes no difference with what interests us here! The body of Jesus would still have been able to have been removed and hidden elsewhere. Whether it makes the story more believable or not is besides the point. In the opinion of rationality—there was no physical resurrection—Jesus’ body was removed and hidden. In the famous words of Sherlock Holmes, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Therefore, if we would want to call it as such—there was a Spiritual Resurrection. Yahushua’s Holy Spirit—His personality, character, quintessence—resurrected to the World of Mind (what religionists have known as heaven, but is understood in Kabbalistic terms as the Spiritual Plane). Thus, Yahushua’s Holy Spirit (His personality, character, quintessence) has already been reincarnated into the Third Person of The Holy Trinity—The Messiah is already present! Have you not been reading the headlines or watching the world news.

As such, if we come to understand the true significance of the religionist conception of heaven as being the Spiritual Plane, it becomes clear that the dead do not go to an afterlife—immortality of the Soul (Psyche) involves the continuing survival of the genetic family line. In this sense, parents pass on their genetic material (DNA) to their children. Similarly, parents pass on the psychological and spiritual characteristics of their family line. At death, therefore, it can be presumed that the person’s spirit (psychological and spiritual characteristics) continues to survive in the hearts and minds of those who remain and were close to the deceased.

In line with these thoughts it follows that the Rapture is “a mystical experience in which the spirit is exalted to a knowledge of divine things”—the person is enlightened with Divine Truth. According to these considerations Mystical is defined as, “having spiritual meaning or reality that is neither apparent to the senses nor obvious to the intelligence.” Thus, the imagination, or rather, (the sixth sense), is required for the spirit to be exalted to a knowledge of Divine Things and experience the Rapture— (Webster’s Ninth Collegiate Dictionary - Rapture, Mystical). Read, analyze, and comprehend the definitions of these two terms correctly. Christians will not fly into space!!!—They will transcend normal reality and be enlightened with the magnificent Mystery of God (Revelation 10:7).

OEC’s, YEC’s, and ID advocates disagree with these views, therefore, it is not difficult to comprehend on which side of the fence they stand. However… the worldview that a person holds regarding the essence of God and Christ, and of spiritual truths, is not an issue that dictates salvation, per se—Jesus Christ’s two most important commandments are at issue there—although, if these worldviews cause the person consternation, this in itself, through psychosomatic cause and effect, can lead to further physiological/psychological imbalances. In the time that we live in it is unequivocally important to be balanced and sure of oneself—that one is prepared for The Great and Terrible day of Yahuwah.

The Bible writers must have wanted us to be well acquainted with the phrase “the day of the Lord,” since it is used nineteen times in the Old Testament (Isaiah 2:12; 13:6, 9; Ezekiel 13:5, 30:3; Joel 1:15, 2:1,11,31; 3:14; Amos 5:18,20; Obadiah 15; Zephaniah 1:7,14; Zechariah 14:1; Malachi. 4:5) and four times in the New Testament (Acts 2:20; 2 Thessalonians 2:2; 2 Peter 3:10)." http://www.gotquestions.org/day-of-the-Lord.html

What many Christians fail to understand is that Christ’s first coming was in humility as the faithful Servant—to be the example to the world as to how people ought to live and respect one another, and, of course, to confirm the prophecies of the prophets, and to fulfill the prophecy of Himself as the sacrificial Passover Lamb for the sins/crimes of the world. However, His Second Coming is anything but in humility. It is to fulfill what was said of Him in Matthew 5:18, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled”—to bring the Wrath of God upon those who have heard the Gospel and have not turned from their unjust, criminal, and immoral ways, as the rest of Matthew 5 decries. It must be this way, if not… life on earth will not survive. Furthermore, Christ has the right to be King, Priest, and Judge because He paid the price in full to be so.

Thus, roughly 2000 years ago, on the Sabbath, Jesus rose from the Nazareth Synagogue and read Isaiah 61:1, "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;"and stated, “This day is this scripture fulfilled,” (Luke 4:17-21) fulfilling the first coming of the Messiah. Today, in our time, Isaiah 61:2-3 will be read, “To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified,” to fulfill the Messiah’s second coming.

For those who summon Anthony Cashmore, biologist at the University of Pennsylvania, who wrote an article, in 2010, titled—The Lucretian swerve: The biological basis of human behavior and the criminal justice system. He wrote: “It is my belief that, as more attention is given to the mechanisms that govern human behavior, it will increasingly be seen that the concept of free will is an illusion." Although it may be true that genes and the environment play a very important role in shaping the individuals that we become, and thus, to some extent, determine our behavior, there is enough stochastic variability where we can be confident in making the statement that we are free moral agents expressing free will. As Cashmore wrote: “[A]n individual cannot be held responsible for either his genes or his environment. From this simple analysis, surely it follows that individuals cannot logically be held responsible for their behavior.” Well… still, if individuals really were deterministic (having no free will), and thus, not responsible for their criminal behavior… fine—Neither is the judge nor the executioner (a person who executes an act, will, judgment, etc.) responsible for his legal behavior in imposing justice.

You are repeating yourself, Roger, and ignoring my response. In your original comment above–at the top–you stated;

And my answer was;

These were your views for the basis of that discussion taken from your original post above—at the top of this thread.

For evolutionary creationism—Pure Unadulterated Christianity (just stating it as it is)—there is no issue that divides Christianity and science. God’s two Books (Nature and the Bible) agree. For others who have issue with teleology and science perhaps they are not assessing the evidence correctly? That teleology is identified with Aristotle and was incorporated into Christian theology through Thomas Aquinas explains its introduction into Christianity through its pagan roots. However, it does not explain the apparent contradiction that you seem to be experiencing. What is required to resolve the issue is that Christians grasp the idea that cosmological evolution is deterministic and biological evolution is teleological. Determinism [does not] suggest chance—it implies that events in nature follow cause and effect/action and reaction natural laws that have been established by the cosmological constants with the origination of the universe. [I use the term origination because science does not like the term creation—it suggests a creator. Since there is no creator, to be respected by the scientific community, one should use an appropriate term. This significant point (creation) was a contributing factor in what decided the outcome of the intelligent design trial and ultimately, and by reason thereof, the judgment in the schools.] The eternal animating force (God), as implied, is eternal therefore, [it] establishes the cosmological constants through its cycling cause and effect determinism—designed, but no designer. Biological evolution, by contrast, is teleological in that [all] biological life “strives to survive and thrive.” That is the goal and purpose of all life (the microbial world, the animal kingdom, and human society)—to strive to survive and thrive. This is evolution at its most basic function. Through deterministic fine tuning and the birth of life on earth the “designing intelligence” (within the cell)—to strive to survive and thrive—began to create the innumerable various species on our planet. In line with philosophical protocol teleology is a social science and philosophical issue that biology has not been given the right to address. Thus your statement that science has taken a materialistic view of reality is unjustified. Because natural scientists analyze and assess the material world without implicating teleology (meaning and purpose) does not suggest that they have denied that life has meaning and purpose. Hopefully our present discussion will resolve the conflicting issues that many Christians have with cosmological and biological evolution according to their distinct and contrasting aspects of determinism and teleology.

Your point here is in agreement with my worldview concerning biological evolution. As Bill Nye stated in his debate with Ken Ham—survival of the fittest does not mean, the strongest, or the smartest, but rather those organisms that fit in best with their environment. This is also true with Darwinian sociology. Those who fit in best in the social environment survive. In the wild it is nature itself that selects for survival thus—natural selection. In human society it is the law (the social contract) that selects for survival thus—artificial selection. It is already understood that artificial selection also implies the selection of different animals breeds and different strains of plant life.

Cosmological evolution seems very well to be determined by mechanistic forces. However, I would not say that there is no reason or purpose. The reason or purpose would seem to be that—this is just the way that the eternal animating force (God) operates. In this same sense is the reason or purpose for an apple falling from a tree to reach the ground—the reason or purpose of the apple falling is the apple’s weight on its limb and the force of gravity. It has already been explained that the reason or purpose of life is to survive and thrive—or as you state it, to survive and flourish. Same difference.

I totally agree… this is exactly what we are involved in—here at BioLogos.

Actually the evidence seems to point to a deterministic universe with stochastic variability, even though the variabilities are difficult to calculate. We have the illusion that we have the freedom to make decisions and change our lives—However, with the infinite stochastic variabilities it makes a good enough case that we have free will. The Holy Scriptures themselves confirm the deterministic nature of the universe. Referring to the Antichrist it is written—“And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13: 8) Is it not clear enough that they who worship the beast do not have their names written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Did you also catch that the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world. It was determined from the foundation of the world that the Lamb would be slain.

These last two quotes are again taken from your original comment above—at the top of this thread.

I view it this way… Einstein’s energy/matter model of the scientific monistic relativistic worldview has for its biological counterpart Descartes’ mind/body model. This view is sometimes referred to as the mind/matter continuum. In my opinion these two worldviews need not be reconciled since one involves inanimate matter and the other animate matter. When they are reconciled it tends to create confusion—as is experienced in the theistic anthropomorphism of nature. Above, you exhorted: “we need to take the bull by the horns.” Well… let us move forward and evolve then, not backward and regress!

Although there should not be a war between science and a faith, theology and religion do create an environment of perplexing confusion. And while you say that “the gap… can not be papered over by a better understanding of science or Christianity,” I recommend being aware of what the individual sciences can and cannot discuss. As for Christianity… a better understanding has been presented. If this is what you mean by, “reconciliation through a new understanding of the nature of our universe” I say that that needs to come first of all from [a better understanding of theology]—A theology directed by philosophical principles and considerations.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #13

@Tony

Very interesting mish-mash of syncretic occultism. It is too bad that you did not heed my warning concerning cults and the occult. If you do not believe in a Personal God, YHWH, then please do not use God’s Name in your philosophy. Besides being offensive to YHWH, Jews, and Christians, it offends logic.

It is also too bad that there is nothing in this long rant that I can agree with and could form a common ground for discussion. As for > A theology directed by philosophical principles and considerations you have demonstrated what happens when one puts human understanding first and God second or third (behind science.)

Thus you have not provided any basis for solving this problem beyond baseless speculation. You have provided no basis for discussion.


#14

@Relates

Jesus said, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” (Matthew 7:6) Is this not the case here?

Jesus also said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” You ask, you knock, and you inquire, and yet—against all rational reason, you tread and stomp upon, and attempt to extinguish intellectual advancement.

You made the statement, “we need to take the bull by the horns, so to speak, and be clear about the issues and problems, so we can have an open and honest discussion.” Now I definitively realize that you want nothing of the sort.

However, because I know there are others, here at BioLogos, who are serious about doing philosophy, theology, and science I know that my efforts have not been done in vain. Although… I do realize that my last piece has touched a very sensitive nerve in you indeed.


#15

@johnZ

Thank you for your reply…

I do not support an ideology that denies the presence of the true God. I also agree that our knowledge of God depends on our experience of God, which is dependent on the Holy Spirit within us. However, because some do not experience the Holy Spirit is not, in effect, related to belief in “the white haired bearded man in the sky god.” The Holy Spirit is received as a gift from parents, family, and close friends who are there to guide us in our life journey, and is further developed from the interactions of life’s experience. Thus, that some do not experience that due to lack of the Spirit is directly related to a lack of moral upbringing in the family beginning at childhood.

Emmanuel was with us some 2000 years ago. Our ancestors who were there and were filled with Yahuwah’s Spirit passed the Spirit on to their children, who in turn, passed it on their children. Today the Holy Spirit is alive and well in the families in whom it dwells.

In my opinion, it is more accurate to state that “without the present universe” God would still exist. Yes, this is as scripture indicates, but it is also as panentheism posits.


#16

Tony, you said,

" I suspect that you must also be aware that this humanist, philosophical atheism that I maintain is strictly based on an in-depth investigative research of the Holy Scriptures of the Judeo-Christian faith, and their mutual correlation with scientific tenets and philosophical objectives. As with all investigative research of this magnitude it involves critical thinking based on scientific facts, and scientific theories, that have been verified by empirical evidence. Logical philosophical assessment confirms that these theories are based on a solid analytical foundation. I am confident that there are many other evolutionary creationists who similarly hold this worldview that I present here today."

Tony, in the interests of focussing, I thought I would only highlight this comment and see if I could get clarification. Are you claiming that some evolutionary creationists would maintain a humanist philosophical atheism? I admit I don’t understand how this is possible… it sounds like a dualism that goes much beyond the old Aristotelian and Rom Cath dualism of body and soul. How an evolutionary creationist can deny God puzzles me greatly.


#17

Tony as to your post on the Holy spirit. You say it is passed on by parents thru moral upbringing. How do you know this spirit is holy? Why do you call it holy? How can unholy people create a holy spirit. What manner do they use to pass on this spirit that they created? Do they have to keep it holy or does it stay holy on its own? I’m also curious who told you about a white haired man in the sky god… I’ve never seen him, and I don’t know Christians who believe in this caricature. Do you think that those who do not believe in God can still have God’s spirit within them? If not, whose spirit is it? If yes, explain why God would do that? Or where you get your evidence for that thought.

The Holy Spirit is received as a gift from parents, family, and close friends who are there to guide us in our life journey, and is further developed from the interactions of life’s experience. Thus, that some do not experience that due to lack of the Spirit is directly related to a lack of moral upbringing in the family beginning at childhood.

I presume you mean that knowledge is passed on as a gift. For some have the knowledge, but not the Spirit.

To clarify, do you think that without the material world of any kind, and without energy, God could not exist?


#18

@johnZ

To adequately answer your question certain philosophical acknowledgements must first be established:

“Philosophy has two important aims. First, it tries to give a person a unified view of the universe in which he lives. Second, it tries to make a person a more critical thinker by sharpening his ability to think clearly and precisely.” (World Book Encyclopedia - Philosophy).

As a result of this reasoning it is obvious that to fulfill philosophy’s two important aims it is essential to first fulfill the necessary requirements to achieve the second aim first—to have a specific and accurate definition of the pertinent philosophical terms involved in critical thinking. Without fulfilling the necessary requirements to achieve the second aim first, the attempt to fulfill philosophy’s first aim would be futile, which is to give the person a unified view of the universe in which he lives. If these considerations are understood we can proceed further in our investigation to comprehend the more profound mysteries—those pertaining to God.

We progress in our investigation and transcend in thought in the next step where we gain a specific and accurate definition of the relevant terms used in theology, religion, psychology, and judicial science. This essentially involves a concordist approach with terms used in these intrinsically related fields, such as—sin/crime, sinner/criminal, repent/regret, forgive/pardon, devil/psychopath. As you will notice, in each case, the word on the left is a religious term, and the word on the right is a scientific term (both terms have the same meaning). Utilizing this method for the observation of the human condition it becomes clearly apparent that through the creation of scientific terminology, in this case—psychology and judicial science, for example—that science is examining the validity and justification of religious claims.

In addition, metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that seeks to understand reality beyond what we know from our sense perceptions. It is the name given to research about the eternal universal nature of things. Metaphysics includes: Epistemology—the study of the origin, nature, and limitation of knowledge, Ontology—the study of the nature of reality, and Cosmology—the study of the origin of the universe and its laws. In other words, in order to ontologically understand the nature of reality we must epistemically comprehend the origins, nature, and limitations of language, and, cosmologically understand the origin of the universe and its laws. (Concerning epistemology [the origins, nature, and limitations of knowledge] this pertains to etymology, semantics, semiotics, etc.— however, for our purposes we need only focus on the dictionary definitions of our terms since the rules of language have already been established for us. For cosmology [the study of the origin of the universe and its laws] this pertains to physics and chemistry, and similarly—for our purposes we need only focus on the conclusions of scientific facts and scientific theories which based on solid analytical empirical evidence since these scientific assessments have already been verified for us.)

Hence… what is the nature of reality? Before we deal with this question something needs to be said regarding perception:

"What is Real? We often use the expression “Seeing is believing” without thinking much about it. But sometimes we find that the expression is not quite true. You may be sure you see a puddle of water in the road, but when you come closer, the puddle may not be there at all. Or you may see a bent stick in a glass of water, but find that the stick is straight when you take it out. You then begin to wonder, “Was there a puddle of water in the road?” "Is the stick bent or straight? These problems concern the question of deciding whether what we perceive, or sense, is real, and which of two perceptions is the true one.

As you look at a stick, you might say, “I see a stick.” But what you actually see is an image formed in your eye. If you compare the stick you now see with one you might have seen in a dream, you might find little difference. But you know that the one in the dream was a mental thing. This raises the question of the nature of what you perceive. Is the stick a real thing independent of your knowledge of it. Or is the stick simply what you know of it, or a purely mental thing? The philosophic theory called realism insists that objects exist independently of our knowledge of them. Idealism argues that they exist only in the mind.

Another aspect of the problem of what is real is the philosophic discussion of universals and particulars. When you look at a set of book, you recognize that they are all books. All books are alike as books. This means that each book is an example of a “Book” in a general sense. Philosophers call this general “Book” a universal, and the individual books particulars. They ask, “Is the particular book or the universal “Book” the real one?” Some philosophers say that only the universal is real. The particular book seems to change, but the universal remains unchanged." (World Book Encyclopedia - Philosophy)

Having outlined and examined these philosophical considerations we must now specifically and accurately determine our definitions for the term—God. Since a solid philosophical foundation is imperative for understanding the deeper mysteries of God we need to be particularly specific in these distinctions. Hence… first, we have “the eternal animating force” God that originated the universe. Atheists would define this “God” as the “eternal animating force”—an impersonal cyclical eternal energy force. I would reason that atheists do believe that something did originate the universe right? After all, it is the theists who reason that the universe was created from nothing! Second, we have “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” God—the same Spirit, Personality, Quintessence that occupies three distinct persons. Here, religious people make the big mistake of not differentiating between the “God” who originated the universe, and, “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit God.” They reason that “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit God” is the “God” who created the universe. Therefore, they believe that Jesus was the co-creator of the universe. This is wrong. We may call the impersonal cyclical eternal energy force that originates the universe and interpenetrates every part of nature—God, however, it is not a conscious being in the same sense that we usually speak of the term conscious. The impersonal cyclical eternal energy force becomes conscious of itself through the interpenetration of the universe. Categorically, the “eternal animating force” also interpenetrates the Father (Adam), and through genetic reproduction—the Son (Jesus), and the Third Person (New Name) of the Holy Trinity. With the arrival of the Messiah, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, He will undoubtedly declare, “I do not remember any such thing as creating the universe.” Although all biological life originated through the interpenetrating of the “eternal animating force,” no part of biological life was alive (conscious) at the origination of the universe.) Hence, the, “let us create man in our image,” as if the Father was speaking with the Son at the creation of Adam, is nonsense. Nevertheless, in relation to "the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit God, I do believe there is something to be said about being created in the Image of God. Implying, that we are created in the “idea” (Idealism—a mental thing) of what God should be. Ergo, we try to fashion ourselves to be like the Perfect Model Human Being that Jesus Christ was.

Now, regarding our perception—that we may think we see a puddle of water in the road, but when we come closer, the puddle may not be there at all—this is a mirage, an illusion. The philosophical example is an attempt to teach us the lesson concerning our perception of God. The closer we come to God the more clear it becomes that He and heaven is not “out there” outside the universe—in the place religious people call heaven. But rather, He and heaven exists within us—in the World of Mind.

The illusion example of seeing a bent stick in a glass of water and finding that the stick is straight when you pull it out and ask, “Is the stick bent or straight?” is in this instance trying to teach the principle of the Bending of Reality. Think of it this way—The glass of water is religion, and the stick is God. When you look at God through religion you see Him as “bent.” However, if you take God out of religion you will see Him as “straight.” Remember, the key words are—“which of two perceptions is the true one?” Is God and heaven outside the universe, or, is God and heaven in the universe? Perhaps… He is immanent and through the imagination He can transcend the universe and look back at it?

In regards to universals and particulars—they are both real and are different aspects of the same phenomenon. We exist as individuals but have commonality with others who are of the same universal. God the “eternal animating force” is the Absolute Universal of all universals. And God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are distinct particulars of the All Absolute Universal. The world of man is made up of individuals who are particulars to either of two Universals. These Universals exist in the mind of man as two opposing phenomena creating cognitive dissonance.

"In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values.

Leon Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance focuses on how humans strive for internal consistency. When inconsistency (dissonance) is experienced, individuals tend to become psychologically uncomfortable and they are motivated to attempt to reduce this dissonance, as well as actively avoiding situations and information which are likely to increase it."

Therefore, the answer of whether God exists outside us or within us can be considered in relation to the second paragraph of the Perception Article, “This raises the question of the nature of what you perceive. Is the stick a real thing independent of your knowledge of it. Or is the stick simply what you know of it, or a purely mental thing?” “Which of two perceptions is the true one?” Does God exist independently of our knowledge of Him (Realism) or does He exist only in the mind (Idealism)?

Let us move on to a pertinent aspect of our present considerations. Witchcraft is a knowledge unlike education in that it can be used for either good, or bad, depending on how it is used. Like a gun, a knife, or a hammer, it can be used to help people, or, it can be used to harm them. A witch is a person who has knowledge of witchcraft. In itself being a witch does not make a person good or bad. One aspect of witchcraft is involved with the Bending of Reality. Thus, to the term witch we can ascribe the definition—Bender of Reality. In the operations of bending reality a bad witch can place a person under a spell (delusion) to create a different perception of reality. Obviously this is done to take advantage of the individual in some way. Alternatively, a good witch can free a person who is under a spell (delusion) to bring the person to a true perception of reality. Basically then, we can bend reality one way, or, we can bend reality the other way—one way is reality, the other way is delusion. Usually, the good witch is called a wizard, and the bad witch is called a sorcerer. Do you remember the key words above—“which of two perceptions is the true one?” In relation to God and Satan, who would place humanity in a mass delusion? In regards to “Babylon the Great the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the World” the Holy Scriptures state, “And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.” (Revelation 18:23) Most informed Christians are well aware of who this is referring to. However, what they don’t realize is that the Mother of Harlots has daughters, and that the “members” of her daughters are still under the sorceries of the Mother concerning a true perception of who God is.

Furthermore, Solomon, King of Israel, Son of David stated clearly, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” (Ecclesiastes (9: 10) When the body dies the mind dies along with it, and although the body dies, the Soul lives on through the children for parents who are blessed with offspring. Similarly, the spirit can remain alive in the minds and hearts of those who remain. This is the real meaning of the immortality of the Soul (Psyche). Heaven is the World of Mind. The visions that prophets like Ezekiel, Daniel, and John the revelator had were visions of the Astral World at the Spiritual Plane level. Heaven is not a real place—it is an imaginary place where the ideas there can be molded to become real here, in the Physical World.

Finally… your initial question should be repeated for clarity purposes:

Therefore, yes, I am claiming that some evolutionary creationists would maintain a humanist philosophical atheism in that—they don’t believe in the “white haired bearded man in the sky god” (or any other conscious, intelligent, cognitive anthropomorphic being creation of the theist imagination). True Christians understand and respect the fact that the “eternal animating force” originated the universe, and has some form of energy/matter conscious intelligence, however, it is not the picture plastered throughout the churches of Christendom that theists have painted which has irreversibly damaged the lives of so many people. Hence, there does exist a dualism between Body and Soul (Psyche), and between Energy and Matter, however, these function in tandem with one another when the system is in balance. Hopefully it shouldn’t puzzle you anymore that some evolutionary creationists, or, atheists, deny God—they just understand and have a clearer picture of who God really is.


(Brad Kramer) #19

It’s worth mentioning for the sake of the discussion that @Tony’s definition of evolutionary creationism is a bit different from the BioLogos definition, although I have no issues with panentheistic perspectives being represented here. BioLogos firmly rejects panentheism.


#20

I’m sorry, Tony… some of your statements, are… too self-contradictory for me to grasp. For example, an atheist who

Hopefully it shouldn’t puzzle you anymore that evolutionary creationists or atheists deny God—they just understand and have a clearer picture of who God really is.

who denies God, still understand a god they think does not exist? If you denied I existed, would you understand me better? Or, are you changing the definition of God? Maybe this only makes sense to an atheist, but I find this statement nonsensical (without trying to offend you). And then, for someone who believes in creation, which requires a creator by definition, then denying God… so the creator is not God but someone other than God? So God is an observer, watching the creator…and the creator was not created by God… I think you lost me on that one.

In your examples of the mirage of water, or the stick in water appearing to be bent, I do agree with you that nature can sometimes be deceiving. I doubt that this is directly transferable to demonstrating that God exists only in the world of mind. In fact, it would suggest otherwise. Just as the stick has a real identity, even though it may appear bent, it is not, so although our perceptions of God may at times be off, yet God exists well enough for us to know mostly who he is.

Then, back to your initial characterization of philosophy: you suggest that first we need to have accurate definitions of terms, otherwise the aim of providing a unified view of the universe would be futile. I would suggest that accurate definitions are beneficial. But a unified view of the universe can be achieved without spending much time on definitions of philosophical terms. Trimmed down to basics, a person’s view might be that the world is a mysterious and brutal place in which he wishes to survive and experience pleasure without placing anyone else’s welfare above his own. He might realize that other people express different viewpoints, but ultimately bellieves that everyone operates on the same principle. This is his unified viewpoint, no more, no less. No philosophical terms are used. Yet his philosophy is as valid as the viewpoint of anyone else, and sufficiently comprehensive to suit the purpose. (And there are several, perhaps many viewpoints which could be expressed in similar non-philosophical terms.)

intrinsically related fields, such as—sin/crime, sinner/criminal, repent/regret, forgive/pardon, devil/psychopath. As you will notice, in each case, the word on the left is a religious term, and the word on the right is a scientific term (both terms have the same meaning

Your list of parallel terms are not entirely suitable, it seems to me… crime is a legal term, not scientific, although it depends partly on scientific evidence. Regret is not scientific, but rather emotional, and dependant on the same type of evidence as repentance. Eg. Is saying you repent the same as actually doing repentance? And devil, psycopath? Definately not the same thing nor the same meaning, although a devil might influence a psychopath.