Christianity & Science

In an article on “Why the Arabic World Turned Away from Science,” Hillel Ofek describes and helps account for the great contributions of early Islamic scientists and mathematicians, but he then chronicles how ever-more-absolutist brands of Islam came to shut them down.  Ofek says that civilizations often abandon scientific inquiry–citing China and India–and that the West is the notable exception.  For this he gives Christianity lots of credit:

As a way of articulating questions that lie deeper than the Ash’arism-Mu’tazilism debate, it is helpful to briefly compare Islam with Christianity. Christianity acknowledges a private-public distinction and (theoretically, at least) allows adherents the liberty to decide much about their social and political lives. Islam, on the other hand, denies any private-public distinction and includes laws regulating the most minute details of private life. Put another way, Islam does not acknowledge any difference between religious and political ends: it is a religion that specifies political rules for the community.

Such differences between the two faiths can be traced to the differences between their prophets. While Christ was an outsider of the state who ruled no one, and while Christianity did not become a state religion until centuries after Christ’s birth, Mohammed was not only a prophet but also a chief magistrate, a political leader who conquered and governed a religious community he founded. Because Islam was born outside of the Roman Empire, it was never subordinate to politics. As Bernard Lewis puts it, Mohammed was his own Constantine. This means that, for Islam, religion and politics were interdependent from the beginning; Islam needs a state to enforce its laws, and the state needs a basis in Islam to be legitimate. To what extent, then, do Islam’s political proclivities make free inquiry — which is inherently subversive to established rules and customs — possible at a deep and enduring institutional level?

Some clues can be found by comparing institutions in the medieval period. Far from accepting anything close to the occasionalism and legal positivism of the Sunnis, European scholars argued explicitly that when the Bible contradicts the natural world, the holy book should not be taken literally. Influential philosophers like Augustine held that knowledge and reason precede Christianity; he approached the subject of scientific inquiry with cautious encouragement, exhorting Christians to use the classical sciences as a handmaiden of Christian thought. Galileo’s house arrest notwithstanding, his famous remark that “the intention of the Holy Ghost is to teach us how one goes to heaven, not how heaven goes” underscores the durability of the scientific spirit among pious Western societies. Indeed, as David C. Lindberg argues in an essay collected in Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion (2009), “No institution or cultural force of the patristic period offered more encouragement for the investigation of nature than did the Christian church.” And, as Baylor University sociologist Rodney Stark notes in his book For the Glory of God (2003), many of the greatest scientists of the scientific revolution were also Christian priests or ministers.

The Church’s acceptance and even encouragement of philosophy and science was evident from the High Middle Ages to modern times. As the late Ernest L. Fortin of Boston College noted in an essay collected in Classical Christianity and the Political Order (1996), unlike al-Farabi and his successors, “Aquinas was rarely forced to contend with an anti-philosophic bias on the part of the ecclesiastical authorities. As a Christian, he could simply assume philosophy without becoming publicly involved in any argument for or against it.” And when someone like Galileo got in trouble, his work moved forward and his inquiry was carried on by others; in other words, institutional dedication to scientific inquiry was too entrenched in Europe for any authority to control. After about the middle of the thirteenth century in the Latin West, we know of no instance of persecution of anyone who advocated philosophy as an aid in interpreting revelation. In this period, “attacks on reason would have been regarded as bizarre and unacceptable,” explains historian Edward Grant in Science and Religion, 400 b.c. to a.d. 1550.

via The New Atlantis » Why the Arabic World Turned Away from Science.

Augustine indeed, on the basis of the classical science of his day, said there was no need to take the creation account in Genesis literally in every detail, while still affirming the truth of what it means.  Arguably, the worldviews of Christianity and those early scientists were in harmony–indeed, the former made possible the latter–whereas  they started to clash after the Enlightenment and 19th century materialism.  Still. . . .

HT:  Joe Carter

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Did Arabs have a strong indigenous tradition of philosophy before Islam? The west did and so did the far east.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Did Arabs have a strong indigenous tradition of philosophy before Islam? The west did and so did the far east.

  • Dennis Peskey

    Hillel Ofek did address this issue in the article link above. What the western philosophical tradition assumes a priori is not possible in an Islamic setting. Questions of a metaphysical nature, i.e. origin of man and the universe, natural law, morality, purpose of life, etc. are all fair game in western philosophical thought. The nature of Islam is restricted by it’s very essence – the definition of Islam means “to submit”. This submission to the prevailing understanding of the Koran precludes (or rather excludes) any inquiry into matters perceived contrary to the will of Allah as presented in the Koran. Ergo, what degree of philosophical license the early muslims may have engendered from their association to Greek traditions has been lost to the ever increasing restrictions of their religious attempts to protect their understanding of God.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    Hillel Ofek did address this issue in the article link above. What the western philosophical tradition assumes a priori is not possible in an Islamic setting. Questions of a metaphysical nature, i.e. origin of man and the universe, natural law, morality, purpose of life, etc. are all fair game in western philosophical thought. The nature of Islam is restricted by it’s very essence – the definition of Islam means “to submit”. This submission to the prevailing understanding of the Koran precludes (or rather excludes) any inquiry into matters perceived contrary to the will of Allah as presented in the Koran. Ergo, what degree of philosophical license the early muslims may have engendered from their association to Greek traditions has been lost to the ever increasing restrictions of their religious attempts to protect their understanding of God.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Andrew

    “Ofek describes and helps account for the great contributions of early Islamic scientists and mathematicians, but he then chronicles how ever-more-absolutist brands of Islam came to shut them down.”

    Sort of like what we see now in Christianity, with absolutist brands fighting scientists on evolution because the science doesn’t fit their literal interpretation of their creation story.

  • Andrew

    “Ofek describes and helps account for the great contributions of early Islamic scientists and mathematicians, but he then chronicles how ever-more-absolutist brands of Islam came to shut them down.”

    Sort of like what we see now in Christianity, with absolutist brands fighting scientists on evolution because the science doesn’t fit their literal interpretation of their creation story.

  • Tom Hering

    Andrew, I’m a Creationist by faith. What you want to believe according to reason is your business. Of course, you’re going to go to Hell for it. :-D

  • Tom Hering

    Andrew, I’m a Creationist by faith. What you want to believe according to reason is your business. Of course, you’re going to go to Hell for it. :-D

  • Andrew

    Tom: I’m a Calvinist by faith, so I know my understanding of the Bible and science doesn’t change the fact that I’m saved by God’s grace… ;)

  • Andrew

    Tom: I’m a Calvinist by faith, so I know my understanding of the Bible and science doesn’t change the fact that I’m saved by God’s grace… ;)

  • Dennis Peskey

    Andrew (#3) I also am a creationist by faith and a firm believer in the scientific method by education. I would be most interested in any evidence which supports Darwin’s Origin of the Species given the 150 years which have elapsed since publication. The precondition given by Charles himself in his work presupposed the evidence would be found in the fossil record. To date, I know of no transitional fossil record which verifies the hypothesis (insufficient evidence to scientifically qualify as a theory) of evolution. I would appreciate any assistance you could provide in this inquiry.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    Andrew (#3) I also am a creationist by faith and a firm believer in the scientific method by education. I would be most interested in any evidence which supports Darwin’s Origin of the Species given the 150 years which have elapsed since publication. The precondition given by Charles himself in his work presupposed the evidence would be found in the fossil record. To date, I know of no transitional fossil record which verifies the hypothesis (insufficient evidence to scientifically qualify as a theory) of evolution. I would appreciate any assistance you could provide in this inquiry.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    I am a creationist with a biology degree. The scientific evidence isn’t there. The genetic research is all based on WAGS. They begin with the presupposition that evolutionary theory is correct and then predict what the ancestor gene looked like. Their experiments suggest that this could work, but there is no proof for the existence of the presupposed ancestor.

    I really do not like the no transitional fossil argument. Arguments from silence are never good. Just ask all the people who said Pilate was a fictional character.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    I am a creationist with a biology degree. The scientific evidence isn’t there. The genetic research is all based on WAGS. They begin with the presupposition that evolutionary theory is correct and then predict what the ancestor gene looked like. Their experiments suggest that this could work, but there is no proof for the existence of the presupposed ancestor.

    I really do not like the no transitional fossil argument. Arguments from silence are never good. Just ask all the people who said Pilate was a fictional character.

  • michael henry

    Quote: ” Hillel Ofek describes and helps account for the great contributions of early Islamic scientists and mathematicians,..”.
    One of the great current myths, not based on historical fact but on modern fads, is that islam engendered a golden age of philosophy and science, culture and art.
    For example, in an article titled “Twin Myths of Eurabia”, Fjordman, notes that: “When the Arab Muslims, a collection of backward, nomadic warrior tribes who did not even have a fully developed script”. In his article, that cites authorities such at Bat Ye’or and John Adams as a historian, Fjordman in a short manner dissolves the islamic art/science myth.
    Islam and the Arabs only rode the coattails of the preceding Roman and Greek cultures they conquered, and rarely made more than a token addition to the body of science.

  • michael henry

    Quote: ” Hillel Ofek describes and helps account for the great contributions of early Islamic scientists and mathematicians,..”.
    One of the great current myths, not based on historical fact but on modern fads, is that islam engendered a golden age of philosophy and science, culture and art.
    For example, in an article titled “Twin Myths of Eurabia”, Fjordman, notes that: “When the Arab Muslims, a collection of backward, nomadic warrior tribes who did not even have a fully developed script”. In his article, that cites authorities such at Bat Ye’or and John Adams as a historian, Fjordman in a short manner dissolves the islamic art/science myth.
    Islam and the Arabs only rode the coattails of the preceding Roman and Greek cultures they conquered, and rarely made more than a token addition to the body of science.

  • SKPeterson

    Michael @ 8 – We also overlook that they took much from the Persians and through the Mongols, the Chinese.

    Randall Collins has a wonderful tome, The Sociology of Philosophies that details the links between various schools of thought over the centuries. To short-hand hit argument, the collapse of philosophy in Islam was a result of initial intellectual success; Islamic philosophers came up with proofs of the unity of God and the nature of the created world as separate from the Creator (Mu’tazilites). Further they argued that the Qu’ran was a created object and not on the same level as God, so elevation of it was a form of dualism that should be condemned. Well, this brought them grief from the scriptural purists who eventually won over the political establishment, and the growth of Islamic philosophy effectively ended after several centuries.

    The Mu’tazilites did develop some rather interesting theories though, time-atomism being the most odd. Grad student research paper topic of the day: Mu’tazilite time-atomism, perpetual recreation and free-will against the Christian concept of divine sustenance of creation, continuity, the freedom of God and bondage of man to sin. What a thesis that would be.

  • SKPeterson

    Michael @ 8 – We also overlook that they took much from the Persians and through the Mongols, the Chinese.

    Randall Collins has a wonderful tome, The Sociology of Philosophies that details the links between various schools of thought over the centuries. To short-hand hit argument, the collapse of philosophy in Islam was a result of initial intellectual success; Islamic philosophers came up with proofs of the unity of God and the nature of the created world as separate from the Creator (Mu’tazilites). Further they argued that the Qu’ran was a created object and not on the same level as God, so elevation of it was a form of dualism that should be condemned. Well, this brought them grief from the scriptural purists who eventually won over the political establishment, and the growth of Islamic philosophy effectively ended after several centuries.

    The Mu’tazilites did develop some rather interesting theories though, time-atomism being the most odd. Grad student research paper topic of the day: Mu’tazilite time-atomism, perpetual recreation and free-will against the Christian concept of divine sustenance of creation, continuity, the freedom of God and bondage of man to sin. What a thesis that would be.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    To sg’s first question concerning Islam and a philosophical inheritance among Arabs. Well, no.
    The history of the Middle East as we now call it, and the history of Philosophy are quite interesting, and perhaps the best popular work on the market dealing with all this is Rodney Stark’s “The Case for the Crusades” where he debunks myths concerning even the early advances of Islam in philosophy and science.
    In truth, Islam developed in a province that had been considered a Roman Province for quite some time, there was even an Arab Emporer of Rome at one time. And in that area, as with the rest of the Roman Empire, much of which has been conquered by marauding bands of Muslims over the centuries, was dominated by Greek Philosophy. What education and Philosophy that was taught in these areas had its roots in Plato and Aristotle, the great schools were in Athens, Antioch, and Alexandria, though other provinces had their own schools, Rome and Milan for instance both enjoyed fame as one can tell from reading Augustine’s Conffessions, Hippo had a school, but not all that prestigious. The claim that Universities were Islamic inventions is quite peculiar, people who make such statements are not educated enough to be giving commencement speeches.
    What happened with the rise of Islam is that it took over many areas that were already quite advanced and advancing in the sciences, though the people behind it were typically not Muslim, their are records of Muslims bragging about their Nestorian Doctors, much the same way people look for Jewish Doctors today… But the advances were happening in that area of the world that was considered Muslim, so Islam got the credit. As Islam became more and more dominant, and as more and more people converted for social reasons, there was less free thinking allowed, Nestorians could think freely, Jews and Christians too, but Muslims are bound by the Koran. The wheel was literally lost to that area of the world. Rather than scientific advance, there was regression. In the realm of Philosophy the great Islamic Scholars, Avecina and Averoes, from that great tolerant city of Cordoba…, did little more than regurgitate what they read in Aristotle and Plato, and even that got them into hot water at times. Of course they began to formulate apologetical criticisms of Christianity based on these, until the likes of Thomas Aquinas came on the scene and showed them how to do Aristotelian Philosophy the right way.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    To sg’s first question concerning Islam and a philosophical inheritance among Arabs. Well, no.
    The history of the Middle East as we now call it, and the history of Philosophy are quite interesting, and perhaps the best popular work on the market dealing with all this is Rodney Stark’s “The Case for the Crusades” where he debunks myths concerning even the early advances of Islam in philosophy and science.
    In truth, Islam developed in a province that had been considered a Roman Province for quite some time, there was even an Arab Emporer of Rome at one time. And in that area, as with the rest of the Roman Empire, much of which has been conquered by marauding bands of Muslims over the centuries, was dominated by Greek Philosophy. What education and Philosophy that was taught in these areas had its roots in Plato and Aristotle, the great schools were in Athens, Antioch, and Alexandria, though other provinces had their own schools, Rome and Milan for instance both enjoyed fame as one can tell from reading Augustine’s Conffessions, Hippo had a school, but not all that prestigious. The claim that Universities were Islamic inventions is quite peculiar, people who make such statements are not educated enough to be giving commencement speeches.
    What happened with the rise of Islam is that it took over many areas that were already quite advanced and advancing in the sciences, though the people behind it were typically not Muslim, their are records of Muslims bragging about their Nestorian Doctors, much the same way people look for Jewish Doctors today… But the advances were happening in that area of the world that was considered Muslim, so Islam got the credit. As Islam became more and more dominant, and as more and more people converted for social reasons, there was less free thinking allowed, Nestorians could think freely, Jews and Christians too, but Muslims are bound by the Koran. The wheel was literally lost to that area of the world. Rather than scientific advance, there was regression. In the realm of Philosophy the great Islamic Scholars, Avecina and Averoes, from that great tolerant city of Cordoba…, did little more than regurgitate what they read in Aristotle and Plato, and even that got them into hot water at times. Of course they began to formulate apologetical criticisms of Christianity based on these, until the likes of Thomas Aquinas came on the scene and showed them how to do Aristotelian Philosophy the right way.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    DL21,
    My current reading, “the Logic of Chance” By Dr. Knoonin, is fascinating. Of course he is an evolutionist himself, and an Atheist, and praises Darwin continually. But he does so in the same way Calvinists praise Luther, as a smokescreen to contradict everything the man said.
    He points to studies and papers by Stephen J. Gould, that would seem to support much of what Dennis Pesky says above. But perhaps tweaked a bit. His contention is not an argument from silence against Darwin, so much as it seems to be that what the fossil record does show seems to be direct evidence against the main tenets of Darwin, that of gradual speciation, in that it shows long periods of stasis. There perhaps is yet a bit of an argument from silence there. But it is rather interesting to me.
    The other interesting aspect of the book is Koonin, though he has no love of Christianity, doesn’t seem to think that the enemy of free thinking is Christianity, so much as it is the scientific community’s own adherence to Darwin, and especially the “Modern Synthesis” that had to be concocted to save Darwinism in the mid twentieth century, when it had already been shown to be lacking.
    I’m only two chapters in, it was written to be a popular book, but it gets rather dense.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    DL21,
    My current reading, “the Logic of Chance” By Dr. Knoonin, is fascinating. Of course he is an evolutionist himself, and an Atheist, and praises Darwin continually. But he does so in the same way Calvinists praise Luther, as a smokescreen to contradict everything the man said.
    He points to studies and papers by Stephen J. Gould, that would seem to support much of what Dennis Pesky says above. But perhaps tweaked a bit. His contention is not an argument from silence against Darwin, so much as it seems to be that what the fossil record does show seems to be direct evidence against the main tenets of Darwin, that of gradual speciation, in that it shows long periods of stasis. There perhaps is yet a bit of an argument from silence there. But it is rather interesting to me.
    The other interesting aspect of the book is Koonin, though he has no love of Christianity, doesn’t seem to think that the enemy of free thinking is Christianity, so much as it is the scientific community’s own adherence to Darwin, and especially the “Modern Synthesis” that had to be concocted to save Darwinism in the mid twentieth century, when it had already been shown to be lacking.
    I’m only two chapters in, it was written to be a popular book, but it gets rather dense.

  • John C

    Dr Luther, according to Google, WAGS is an acronym for the Wives and Girlfriends of celebrity soccer players in Britain. There is a certain amount of ostentatious display within this group, the females being prettier than the males, which has led to higher rates of reproduction but I fail to see how WAGS advances your argument against evolution.

  • John C

    Dr Luther, according to Google, WAGS is an acronym for the Wives and Girlfriends of celebrity soccer players in Britain. There is a certain amount of ostentatious display within this group, the females being prettier than the males, which has led to higher rates of reproduction but I fail to see how WAGS advances your argument against evolution.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Wild @#$ Guesses

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Wild @#$ Guesses

  • http://steadfastlutherans.org/ SAL

    I don’t really see how the mere presence of evolution in nature challenges the Christian faith.

    Evolution may be observed in the present day by viewing speciation, adaptation or genetic drift. However original sin can also be viewed in any child’s daycare in the present day.

    What we cannot see is history. We collect evidence and assume the most likely explanation but that only works when events conform to our present patterns. Get too far from those patterns and science breaks down.

    Now evolution is a fairly useful theory for tracking diseases, for animal husbandry, the methodical development of new plant varieties and many other endeavors. However if something too far out of our patterns were to occur I doubt scientists could reason to it from the evidence. I suspect scientists would reason to causes that are unlikely but plausible instead of reasoning to events that are implausible but true.

    Now I’m skeptical of the ‘Young Earth’ Creationist interpretation of Genesis or of nature but I can’t in good conscience pretend that scientists have any factual basis to reject miraculous events in far past history.

    Christianity has nurtured science primarily because Christianity has usually had a wide region of adiaphora and uncharted spaces. I think when Christian dogma wanders into peripheral areas closer to the expertise of science or politics it often ends up arguing second rate science or politics instead of proclaiming first-rate Gospel.

  • http://steadfastlutherans.org/ SAL

    I don’t really see how the mere presence of evolution in nature challenges the Christian faith.

    Evolution may be observed in the present day by viewing speciation, adaptation or genetic drift. However original sin can also be viewed in any child’s daycare in the present day.

    What we cannot see is history. We collect evidence and assume the most likely explanation but that only works when events conform to our present patterns. Get too far from those patterns and science breaks down.

    Now evolution is a fairly useful theory for tracking diseases, for animal husbandry, the methodical development of new plant varieties and many other endeavors. However if something too far out of our patterns were to occur I doubt scientists could reason to it from the evidence. I suspect scientists would reason to causes that are unlikely but plausible instead of reasoning to events that are implausible but true.

    Now I’m skeptical of the ‘Young Earth’ Creationist interpretation of Genesis or of nature but I can’t in good conscience pretend that scientists have any factual basis to reject miraculous events in far past history.

    Christianity has nurtured science primarily because Christianity has usually had a wide region of adiaphora and uncharted spaces. I think when Christian dogma wanders into peripheral areas closer to the expertise of science or politics it often ends up arguing second rate science or politics instead of proclaiming first-rate Gospel.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Okay, I worry that I’m too late to this party, but I have some serious issues with the theories being posited here. Might as well get out there that I tend to subscribe to the young-earth, literal Creation account, though I’m not terribly dogmatic about that when it comes to others. I guess I’m just not all that interested in those particular branches of science (cosmology, geology, biology, etc.)

    Anyhow, while this article is all “Christianity, rah-rah!” and “Islam: booooo!”, it seems that the particular elements of Christianity that it lauds are not those that most people here typically are seen supporting. Let me get more specific. The article says:

    Galileo’s house arrest notwithstanding, his famous remark that “the intention of the Holy Ghost is to teach us how one goes to heaven, not how heaven goes” underscores the durability of the scientific spirit among pious Western societies.

    Well, it’d be news to me if everyone here agreed with Galileo when it comes to the first several chapters of Genesis. Most “conservative” Christians — I’ll name names: DLit2c (@7), Bror (@10) — seem to think that those chapters are written to communicate scientific concepts. This would, of course, disagree with Galileo’s quote, and, it seems, the article’s reference of it.

    Or take Veith’s follow-up quote:

    Augustine indeed, on the basis of the classical science of his day, said there was no need to take the creation account in Genesis literally in every detail, while still affirming the truth of what it means.

    Yeah, but who here is championing Augustine’s having said so? The only Christians I ever hear referencing that — at least, before Veith did — are those who believe in an old earth, with evolution and the lot, and who are usually attacked by the other Christians on this blog and in the world with various epithets ranging from “mistaken” to “godless” or “satanic”.

    My point being, seems to me that the type of Christianity you typically encounter on this blog — and making noise in America in general — is much more akin to the Islam that’s being derided in this article. I know others have pointed out as much.

    But the cognitive dissonance is too much for me here. How, exactly, does one mock the anti-science, anti-inquiry nature of Islam, and then turn around and subscribe to a cosmology that is informed solely based on Scripture, and not, well, science or inquiry? I don’t get it.

    Of course, saying that we’re akin to Muslims in this regard does not, ipso facto, mean that we’re wrong to do so. That would only be true if scientific inquiry were the most important goal, above faith. But aren’t most of you here trying to have your cake and eat it, too? Trying to mock Islam for being so bass-ackwards while holding to a similar mindset?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Okay, I worry that I’m too late to this party, but I have some serious issues with the theories being posited here. Might as well get out there that I tend to subscribe to the young-earth, literal Creation account, though I’m not terribly dogmatic about that when it comes to others. I guess I’m just not all that interested in those particular branches of science (cosmology, geology, biology, etc.)

    Anyhow, while this article is all “Christianity, rah-rah!” and “Islam: booooo!”, it seems that the particular elements of Christianity that it lauds are not those that most people here typically are seen supporting. Let me get more specific. The article says:

    Galileo’s house arrest notwithstanding, his famous remark that “the intention of the Holy Ghost is to teach us how one goes to heaven, not how heaven goes” underscores the durability of the scientific spirit among pious Western societies.

    Well, it’d be news to me if everyone here agreed with Galileo when it comes to the first several chapters of Genesis. Most “conservative” Christians — I’ll name names: DLit2c (@7), Bror (@10) — seem to think that those chapters are written to communicate scientific concepts. This would, of course, disagree with Galileo’s quote, and, it seems, the article’s reference of it.

    Or take Veith’s follow-up quote:

    Augustine indeed, on the basis of the classical science of his day, said there was no need to take the creation account in Genesis literally in every detail, while still affirming the truth of what it means.

    Yeah, but who here is championing Augustine’s having said so? The only Christians I ever hear referencing that — at least, before Veith did — are those who believe in an old earth, with evolution and the lot, and who are usually attacked by the other Christians on this blog and in the world with various epithets ranging from “mistaken” to “godless” or “satanic”.

    My point being, seems to me that the type of Christianity you typically encounter on this blog — and making noise in America in general — is much more akin to the Islam that’s being derided in this article. I know others have pointed out as much.

    But the cognitive dissonance is too much for me here. How, exactly, does one mock the anti-science, anti-inquiry nature of Islam, and then turn around and subscribe to a cosmology that is informed solely based on Scripture, and not, well, science or inquiry? I don’t get it.

    Of course, saying that we’re akin to Muslims in this regard does not, ipso facto, mean that we’re wrong to do so. That would only be true if scientific inquiry were the most important goal, above faith. But aren’t most of you here trying to have your cake and eat it, too? Trying to mock Islam for being so bass-ackwards while holding to a similar mindset?

  • http://snafman.blogspot.com Snafu

    Good point, Todd #15.

    Although I disagree a bit. The early modern scientists usually believed in young earth. Evolution was not an issue before 1859 and Darwin. In that sense, the Christian mindset on these issues was generally something that we would definitely call conservative or even fundamentalist. Neither was there much difference to Islam on these issues.

    And still the Christians made scientific breakthroughs in the 16th-18th centuries, muslims not.

    One could try to oppose this by saying that it is anachronistic to compare e.g. post-darwinian age to pre-darwinian and that the scientists wold have agreed with old earth theories and Darwin if they only had known them. Well, it does not matter, I think. What matters is that many of them de facto were “fundamentalists” and they still decided to examine the nature!

    What I’m saying is that whatever version of Christianity usually overcomes whatever version of Islam regarding scientific development.

    Disclaimer: I haven’t decided myself yet what exactly to think about the YEC-OEC-evolution-ID debates, and this was not a statement of any kind about those.

  • http://snafman.blogspot.com Snafu

    Good point, Todd #15.

    Although I disagree a bit. The early modern scientists usually believed in young earth. Evolution was not an issue before 1859 and Darwin. In that sense, the Christian mindset on these issues was generally something that we would definitely call conservative or even fundamentalist. Neither was there much difference to Islam on these issues.

    And still the Christians made scientific breakthroughs in the 16th-18th centuries, muslims not.

    One could try to oppose this by saying that it is anachronistic to compare e.g. post-darwinian age to pre-darwinian and that the scientists wold have agreed with old earth theories and Darwin if they only had known them. Well, it does not matter, I think. What matters is that many of them de facto were “fundamentalists” and they still decided to examine the nature!

    What I’m saying is that whatever version of Christianity usually overcomes whatever version of Islam regarding scientific development.

    Disclaimer: I haven’t decided myself yet what exactly to think about the YEC-OEC-evolution-ID debates, and this was not a statement of any kind about those.

  • WebMonk

    Snafu – biological evolution wasn’t an issue before … let’s say the 1760s (you could push that back a bit further and I wouldn’t quibble). Darwin is only the most famous (for good reason) on the topic, and there were people before him who developed some forms of biological evolution to try to explain things. But, they were definitely pre-cursors to the seminal work Darwin did.

    Now, if you’re look at geological evolution, then it was pretty well established LONG before Darwin was born, and it was pretty influential on the development of biological evolution, including Darwin’s work.

    Darwin is a very obvious major point in scientific development, but his work was based pretty directly on at least 200 years of development in various related fields, which in terms of today’s YEC arguments would all be labeled “old earth”. And if you want to look at the really, really early roots of “old earth” explanations of the development of the world you can pretty easily trace roots back to the 1000s AD.

    Interestingly, most of those early advances were done by Islamic scientists. Sometime around 1600 (give or take a century or two), scientific progress shifted to the European area of the world.

  • WebMonk

    Snafu – biological evolution wasn’t an issue before … let’s say the 1760s (you could push that back a bit further and I wouldn’t quibble). Darwin is only the most famous (for good reason) on the topic, and there were people before him who developed some forms of biological evolution to try to explain things. But, they were definitely pre-cursors to the seminal work Darwin did.

    Now, if you’re look at geological evolution, then it was pretty well established LONG before Darwin was born, and it was pretty influential on the development of biological evolution, including Darwin’s work.

    Darwin is a very obvious major point in scientific development, but his work was based pretty directly on at least 200 years of development in various related fields, which in terms of today’s YEC arguments would all be labeled “old earth”. And if you want to look at the really, really early roots of “old earth” explanations of the development of the world you can pretty easily trace roots back to the 1000s AD.

    Interestingly, most of those early advances were done by Islamic scientists. Sometime around 1600 (give or take a century or two), scientific progress shifted to the European area of the world.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    “Well, it’d be news to me if everyone here agreed with Galileo when it comes to the first several chapters of Genesis. Most “conservative” Christians — I’ll name names: DLit2c (@7), Bror (@10) — seem to think that those chapters are written to communicate scientific concepts. This would, of course, disagree with Galileo’s quote, and, it seems, the article’s reference of it.”

    tODD, Even After “tODDing”, or is that googled, Galileo and Genesis I was unable to come to any knowledge of Galileo’s views concerning Genesis, so I honestly don’t know if I agree with them or not. For what it is worth I do agree with him concerning the place of the sun in the solar system, a theory that was first brought to light by Copernicus and published by Lutherans at the urging of Melenchthon.
    However, I’m guessing, all details aside, that you are trying to get at my beliefs concerning Evolution, and somehow implying that I would hamper scientific research concerning this. I do tend to buy into Genesis rather quite literally, though I refuse to get bogged into a conversation over when exactly that happened. I don’t know that I can be considered a Young Earther, I don’t know that I could be considered an Old Earther.
    As for Evolution, well you don’t have to be Christian to think that that theory, especially as proposed by Darwin, or defended in the so called “Modern Synthesis” which is what I was taught in grade school and High School, don’t make sense and have a hard time even qualifying as scientific theory. Atheist and Agnostic Epistemologists of the 20th century, Wittgenstein, Karl Popper, and most currently Thomas Nagel to name a few, have themselves shown that the theory doesn’t hold much water.
    As I pointed out in a post above, I am now reading a work by an Evolutionary Biologist (a term he finds redundant) who himself thinks the biggest barrier to the advancement of biological research has been the lock step unthinking attitude of a great many biologists, who uncritically accept the “modern synthesis” despite the mounting evidence against it in the realm of Genome research. I do get the impression though, with him as well as the evolutionary hypotheses presented by Stephen J. Gould, that they are grasping at straws to hold on to a concept that they themselves had thoroughly discredited. But perhaps I’ll yet to be convinced. And that has been my biggest problem with evolution since my twenties, not so much that it contradicts Genesis, but more I just can’t see how it qualifies as good science, when epistemologically it doesn’t make sense, and I believe it is responsible for the hindrance of good science being done. Karl Popper wrote the Darwinian Hypotheses off as Pseudoscience, and a Metaphysical theory, that at best was worthwhile for generating testable hypotheses.
    Yet it is interesting reading Thomas Nagel, an atheist himself, that he too cites the fact that many of the biggest scientific breakthroughs have been brought about by Christian believers and or theists of some sort. That to retort the accusation of many biologists that belief in God would stop or hamper scientific research. Dr. Koonin, the author I’m now reading, talks about “Physics Envy” among biologists. One wonders why it is physics seem to be advancing at a much greater clip than the science of biology, perhaps it has something to do with them uncritically, yet tenaciously holding to a theory that is suffocating its advancements….
    “Yeah, but who here is championing Augustine’s having said so? The only Christians I ever hear referencing that — at least, before Veith did — are those who believe in an old earth, with evolution and the lot, and who are usually attacked by the other Christians on this blog and in the world with various epithets ranging from “mistaken” to “godless” or “satanic”.” This is an oft quoted piece by Augustine, but I never really have been able to come to grips with how what he said at all supports the position of evolution. At best it shows that someone had a differing thought concerning Genesis 1 then is currently held by fundamentalists. It is hardly Augustine supporting evolution. He thought God created the whole world, much the way it is today, not in the course of six days, but in a nanosecond. I sometimes wonder if I don’t agree with him on that.
    But to your greater concern, perhaps, there are fundamentalists, I’m actually sure there are, who would squash scientific research if it appears to disagree with the Bible. The only scientific research I really care to hamper based in part on my belief in the Bible is embryonic stemcell research, and that because it is morally wrong to experiment on these people without their concent, the same way it was morrally reprehensible for the Nazis to do it in WWII, and the Americans to do it to prisoners, mentally handicapped, and unsuspecting Guatemalans before that war. I’m sure you understand.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    “Well, it’d be news to me if everyone here agreed with Galileo when it comes to the first several chapters of Genesis. Most “conservative” Christians — I’ll name names: DLit2c (@7), Bror (@10) — seem to think that those chapters are written to communicate scientific concepts. This would, of course, disagree with Galileo’s quote, and, it seems, the article’s reference of it.”

    tODD, Even After “tODDing”, or is that googled, Galileo and Genesis I was unable to come to any knowledge of Galileo’s views concerning Genesis, so I honestly don’t know if I agree with them or not. For what it is worth I do agree with him concerning the place of the sun in the solar system, a theory that was first brought to light by Copernicus and published by Lutherans at the urging of Melenchthon.
    However, I’m guessing, all details aside, that you are trying to get at my beliefs concerning Evolution, and somehow implying that I would hamper scientific research concerning this. I do tend to buy into Genesis rather quite literally, though I refuse to get bogged into a conversation over when exactly that happened. I don’t know that I can be considered a Young Earther, I don’t know that I could be considered an Old Earther.
    As for Evolution, well you don’t have to be Christian to think that that theory, especially as proposed by Darwin, or defended in the so called “Modern Synthesis” which is what I was taught in grade school and High School, don’t make sense and have a hard time even qualifying as scientific theory. Atheist and Agnostic Epistemologists of the 20th century, Wittgenstein, Karl Popper, and most currently Thomas Nagel to name a few, have themselves shown that the theory doesn’t hold much water.
    As I pointed out in a post above, I am now reading a work by an Evolutionary Biologist (a term he finds redundant) who himself thinks the biggest barrier to the advancement of biological research has been the lock step unthinking attitude of a great many biologists, who uncritically accept the “modern synthesis” despite the mounting evidence against it in the realm of Genome research. I do get the impression though, with him as well as the evolutionary hypotheses presented by Stephen J. Gould, that they are grasping at straws to hold on to a concept that they themselves had thoroughly discredited. But perhaps I’ll yet to be convinced. And that has been my biggest problem with evolution since my twenties, not so much that it contradicts Genesis, but more I just can’t see how it qualifies as good science, when epistemologically it doesn’t make sense, and I believe it is responsible for the hindrance of good science being done. Karl Popper wrote the Darwinian Hypotheses off as Pseudoscience, and a Metaphysical theory, that at best was worthwhile for generating testable hypotheses.
    Yet it is interesting reading Thomas Nagel, an atheist himself, that he too cites the fact that many of the biggest scientific breakthroughs have been brought about by Christian believers and or theists of some sort. That to retort the accusation of many biologists that belief in God would stop or hamper scientific research. Dr. Koonin, the author I’m now reading, talks about “Physics Envy” among biologists. One wonders why it is physics seem to be advancing at a much greater clip than the science of biology, perhaps it has something to do with them uncritically, yet tenaciously holding to a theory that is suffocating its advancements….
    “Yeah, but who here is championing Augustine’s having said so? The only Christians I ever hear referencing that — at least, before Veith did — are those who believe in an old earth, with evolution and the lot, and who are usually attacked by the other Christians on this blog and in the world with various epithets ranging from “mistaken” to “godless” or “satanic”.” This is an oft quoted piece by Augustine, but I never really have been able to come to grips with how what he said at all supports the position of evolution. At best it shows that someone had a differing thought concerning Genesis 1 then is currently held by fundamentalists. It is hardly Augustine supporting evolution. He thought God created the whole world, much the way it is today, not in the course of six days, but in a nanosecond. I sometimes wonder if I don’t agree with him on that.
    But to your greater concern, perhaps, there are fundamentalists, I’m actually sure there are, who would squash scientific research if it appears to disagree with the Bible. The only scientific research I really care to hamper based in part on my belief in the Bible is embryonic stemcell research, and that because it is morally wrong to experiment on these people without their concent, the same way it was morrally reprehensible for the Nazis to do it in WWII, and the Americans to do it to prisoners, mentally handicapped, and unsuspecting Guatemalans before that war. I’m sure you understand.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Depends on how you define scientific concept. Is it a concept derived by direct experimental observation that can be reproduced? No, therefore I do not think it is a scientific concept.

    However, on the othe rhand not all truth is a scientific concept. Therefore, I do not believe it is a scientific concept but I do believe it is truth. Please do not lump me in with the hacks at AiG.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Depends on how you define scientific concept. Is it a concept derived by direct experimental observation that can be reproduced? No, therefore I do not think it is a scientific concept.

    However, on the othe rhand not all truth is a scientific concept. Therefore, I do not believe it is a scientific concept but I do believe it is truth. Please do not lump me in with the hacks at AiG.

  • http://snafman.blogspot.com Snafu

    WebMonk,

    I am aware of that: Lamarck and others preceded Darwin for a long time. Some say that even the ancient Greeks proposed some form of evolution theory. Almost every idea has been introduced in the history more than once; what counts however is when does the idea become mainstream or even worth discussing. (No, I’m not saying that e.g. Lamarck was not worth of discussion.)

    The point was that if you name almost any fundamentalist view of present day, there will be many past, prominent Christian scientists that outrun their Muslim colleagues and adhered to such a view.

  • http://snafman.blogspot.com Snafu

    WebMonk,

    I am aware of that: Lamarck and others preceded Darwin for a long time. Some say that even the ancient Greeks proposed some form of evolution theory. Almost every idea has been introduced in the history more than once; what counts however is when does the idea become mainstream or even worth discussing. (No, I’m not saying that e.g. Lamarck was not worth of discussion.)

    The point was that if you name almost any fundamentalist view of present day, there will be many past, prominent Christian scientists that outrun their Muslim colleagues and adhered to such a view.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    tODD,
    “Of course, saying that we’re akin to Muslims in this regard does not, ipso facto, mean that we’re wrong to do so. That would only be true if scientific inquiry were the most important goal, above faith. But aren’t most of you here trying to have your cake and eat it, too? Trying to mock Islam for being so bass-ackwards while holding to a similar mindset?”
    I think the general notions is that we have two faiths, one has led to ever deeper scientific inquiry, and has created an environment hospitable to scientific inquiry. There have been some notable set backs to that over the years to be sure, but the ship righted itself.
    The other faith has stifled and suffocated scientific inquiry. Even where “fundementalists” are concerned, their cosmology is much more informed by scientific inquiry than one might think.
    so are we having our cake and eating it too? Only if you think that there is somehow an unbridgeable dichotomy between science and Christianity. That might be true of “scientific naturalism” and christianity. But Scientific naturalism is not science, it is a religion many scientists hold to, it is a metaphysical position, often motivated by fear rather than rational thought, that itself has no basis in science, actually cannot, even if that position in some way worships science. And that is the beauty of reading Thomas Nagel, especially his latest book “Secular Philosophy and the Religious Temperament.” As an Atheist he does a good job showing the distinction between science and scientific naturalism.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    tODD,
    “Of course, saying that we’re akin to Muslims in this regard does not, ipso facto, mean that we’re wrong to do so. That would only be true if scientific inquiry were the most important goal, above faith. But aren’t most of you here trying to have your cake and eat it, too? Trying to mock Islam for being so bass-ackwards while holding to a similar mindset?”
    I think the general notions is that we have two faiths, one has led to ever deeper scientific inquiry, and has created an environment hospitable to scientific inquiry. There have been some notable set backs to that over the years to be sure, but the ship righted itself.
    The other faith has stifled and suffocated scientific inquiry. Even where “fundementalists” are concerned, their cosmology is much more informed by scientific inquiry than one might think.
    so are we having our cake and eating it too? Only if you think that there is somehow an unbridgeable dichotomy between science and Christianity. That might be true of “scientific naturalism” and christianity. But Scientific naturalism is not science, it is a religion many scientists hold to, it is a metaphysical position, often motivated by fear rather than rational thought, that itself has no basis in science, actually cannot, even if that position in some way worships science. And that is the beauty of reading Thomas Nagel, especially his latest book “Secular Philosophy and the Religious Temperament.” As an Atheist he does a good job showing the distinction between science and scientific naturalism.

  • fws

    Creationism, in it’s fundamentalist form, and darwinism both start with the same error.

    They assume that what we can observe is an Order of Creation that tells us something we can kn0w and understand in a way that is fixed and timeless and points to something or some Truth beyond what we can observe.

    But the Bible tells us that work being odious and hard, weeds, painful childbirths and women being under the thumb of men are all curses that God placed as Order of Creation , asserting that the Order of Creation manifests curse and then asserts that this is for the good of mankind.

    How do we make sense out of that?

    Well, we use roundup for the weeds, are happy with labor saving devices, and give women drugs to dull the pain of childbirth. And we tell women to suck it up when men put them under their thumb. THAT is the Order of Creation we say. That is to say we do sacrifice and not mercy.

    Religion tries to tell us that Is=Ought. This is the Project of the Natural Law Theories of St Thomas that our Confessions explicitly reject in favor of saying that Romans 2:15 says all there is to say about Natural Law.

    So the idea is that science and reasonable observation is about is about learning an Obedience as a way of making everything right. It is about sacrifice rather than Mercy. This we cling to even though God tells us that even those Genesis Ch 3 curses are all about God working Goodness and Mercy.

    And the strange thing , for those who don’t remember Romans 2:15 is that everything we Observe accuses us. Yet this too is not to prompt us to do an obedience that will make things right in God’s eyes. Only Christ alone can render that Obedience is why this is. It is to extort out of us Obedience to the need of our neighbor for mercy and goodness from us. So neither science nor religion are about doing in the moral sense. They are both to be aimed at doing Goodness and Mercy that seemingly is pointless since it is transitory and will perish.

    The Confessions say that the Law always accuses. Hmmm. Maybe there is some connection to Created Order, sin, and the Law of God?

    And what if KNOWING that stuff can’t fix anything? What if we observe that the more we seem to know collectively, the more accused we feel and the more things seem to be screwed up by us? St Paul says that the Law exists to make sin more sinful.

    So maybe the Christian idea that science, including the other sciences, such as Law etc, are really just to discover the Law of God? Will we expect the Law to “fix ” things?

    In one sense yes. Studying and “obeying” that Law will result in Goodness and Mercy. But if we start to think of Law as more than a bandaid or palliative and imagine that it is a fix that frees us from Divine Providence somehow…. then… well….this will happen:

    God will punish us in order for Goodness and Mercy to happen in the form of Men feeling terrified and so they turn to Christ.

    I am suggesting that some religious conservatives tend to hate tree huggers, because they dont want to admit that they share a common religion. It’s called Legal-ism. And so to evolutionism is also a bastard son of christianity. It could not have come into existence outside of christian thought. And so this legal-ist enslavement to doctrine=science is especially evident in evolutionists.

  • fws

    Creationism, in it’s fundamentalist form, and darwinism both start with the same error.

    They assume that what we can observe is an Order of Creation that tells us something we can kn0w and understand in a way that is fixed and timeless and points to something or some Truth beyond what we can observe.

    But the Bible tells us that work being odious and hard, weeds, painful childbirths and women being under the thumb of men are all curses that God placed as Order of Creation , asserting that the Order of Creation manifests curse and then asserts that this is for the good of mankind.

    How do we make sense out of that?

    Well, we use roundup for the weeds, are happy with labor saving devices, and give women drugs to dull the pain of childbirth. And we tell women to suck it up when men put them under their thumb. THAT is the Order of Creation we say. That is to say we do sacrifice and not mercy.

    Religion tries to tell us that Is=Ought. This is the Project of the Natural Law Theories of St Thomas that our Confessions explicitly reject in favor of saying that Romans 2:15 says all there is to say about Natural Law.

    So the idea is that science and reasonable observation is about is about learning an Obedience as a way of making everything right. It is about sacrifice rather than Mercy. This we cling to even though God tells us that even those Genesis Ch 3 curses are all about God working Goodness and Mercy.

    And the strange thing , for those who don’t remember Romans 2:15 is that everything we Observe accuses us. Yet this too is not to prompt us to do an obedience that will make things right in God’s eyes. Only Christ alone can render that Obedience is why this is. It is to extort out of us Obedience to the need of our neighbor for mercy and goodness from us. So neither science nor religion are about doing in the moral sense. They are both to be aimed at doing Goodness and Mercy that seemingly is pointless since it is transitory and will perish.

    The Confessions say that the Law always accuses. Hmmm. Maybe there is some connection to Created Order, sin, and the Law of God?

    And what if KNOWING that stuff can’t fix anything? What if we observe that the more we seem to know collectively, the more accused we feel and the more things seem to be screwed up by us? St Paul says that the Law exists to make sin more sinful.

    So maybe the Christian idea that science, including the other sciences, such as Law etc, are really just to discover the Law of God? Will we expect the Law to “fix ” things?

    In one sense yes. Studying and “obeying” that Law will result in Goodness and Mercy. But if we start to think of Law as more than a bandaid or palliative and imagine that it is a fix that frees us from Divine Providence somehow…. then… well….this will happen:

    God will punish us in order for Goodness and Mercy to happen in the form of Men feeling terrified and so they turn to Christ.

    I am suggesting that some religious conservatives tend to hate tree huggers, because they dont want to admit that they share a common religion. It’s called Legal-ism. And so to evolutionism is also a bastard son of christianity. It could not have come into existence outside of christian thought. And so this legal-ist enslavement to doctrine=science is especially evident in evolutionists.

  • John C

    At the moment there is no serious challenge to evolution, Bror. Papers are written, books are published and debates are conducted in crowded auditoriums but the scientific community has not yet rejected evolution.
    Science is a very competitive discipline. The Nobel Prize for knocking evolution off the perch is still sitting on the shelf.
    Not yet, hang on, be patient.

  • John C

    At the moment there is no serious challenge to evolution, Bror. Papers are written, books are published and debates are conducted in crowded auditoriums but the scientific community has not yet rejected evolution.
    Science is a very competitive discipline. The Nobel Prize for knocking evolution off the perch is still sitting on the shelf.
    Not yet, hang on, be patient.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bror (@18), just to get this out of the way, I really think you misunderstand my resorting to Google and Wikipedia, at several different levels.

    I don’t view such research as terribly authoritative. I get where it ranks in terms of substance. But I usually resort to it when I think that the point I’m disputing is on even shakier ground. That is to say, a quickly-Googled fact still trumps something pulled out of someone’s posterior. (And, yes, an expert in the field trumps both. But they rarely inject themselves into blog discussions.) I’m not usually trying to prove I’m an expert, nor am I trying to become an expert with my cursory research. Typically, I’m just trying to prove that someone doesn’t know what they’re talking about. I’m happy to be shown that the same is true of me by someone with at least as much authority as an Internet search.

    I also think your disdain for Google and Wikipedia is misplaced. Neither claims to be an authority. Both are places to locate actual sources (a fact missed by many who decry Wikipedia — it has footnotes that point to sources; you can typically corroborate what it says yourself). If you are making claims about language employed by FEMA, and I do some Googling and turn up counterexamples on FEMA.gov, then I think my claims are pretty darn authoritative.

    If I have time, I’ll get to the rest of your points later.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bror (@18), just to get this out of the way, I really think you misunderstand my resorting to Google and Wikipedia, at several different levels.

    I don’t view such research as terribly authoritative. I get where it ranks in terms of substance. But I usually resort to it when I think that the point I’m disputing is on even shakier ground. That is to say, a quickly-Googled fact still trumps something pulled out of someone’s posterior. (And, yes, an expert in the field trumps both. But they rarely inject themselves into blog discussions.) I’m not usually trying to prove I’m an expert, nor am I trying to become an expert with my cursory research. Typically, I’m just trying to prove that someone doesn’t know what they’re talking about. I’m happy to be shown that the same is true of me by someone with at least as much authority as an Internet search.

    I also think your disdain for Google and Wikipedia is misplaced. Neither claims to be an authority. Both are places to locate actual sources (a fact missed by many who decry Wikipedia — it has footnotes that point to sources; you can typically corroborate what it says yourself). If you are making claims about language employed by FEMA, and I do some Googling and turn up counterexamples on FEMA.gov, then I think my claims are pretty darn authoritative.

    If I have time, I’ll get to the rest of your points later.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com bror erickson

    tODD, I do not disdain wikipedia or Google, I merely rib you for your propensity to actually do that much research, where many of us don’t bother. Actually its a traite I somewhat admire about you, but find funny nonetheless. Do you have siblings?

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com bror erickson

    tODD, I do not disdain wikipedia or Google, I merely rib you for your propensity to actually do that much research, where many of us don’t bother. Actually its a traite I somewhat admire about you, but find funny nonetheless. Do you have siblings?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bror (@25), no, I don’t have any siblings (though I acquired some sisters-in-law several years ago), which is probably why I didn’t catch that you were just giving me crap. Crap-giving, I can take (though I’m much more used to dishing it out, of course). I just thought you honestly had a problem with my doing that. Now that I understand better, I know to punch you hard in the arm next time I see you.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bror (@25), no, I don’t have any siblings (though I acquired some sisters-in-law several years ago), which is probably why I didn’t catch that you were just giving me crap. Crap-giving, I can take (though I’m much more used to dishing it out, of course). I just thought you honestly had a problem with my doing that. Now that I understand better, I know to punch you hard in the arm next time I see you.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Anyhow. Bror (@18), I wasn’t so much referring to Galileo’s specific views on Genesis (about which I am ignorant), as what I think his quote says in general about viewing the Bible as an expositor of scientific concepts:

    The intention of the Holy Ghost is to teach us how one goes to heaven, not how heaven goes.

    This appears to fly in the face of the views of most modern Evangelicals, as well as most (theologically conservative) Lutherans that I know, in which Genesis is meant to be read as given more to explaining scientific truths than spiritual ones.

    And let me again say that I still subscribe (if without much real interest or enthusiasm) to the literal, six-day creation. But in so doing, I’m very aware of how this makes my approach to many parts of modern science — cosmology, biology, etc. — one in which any answer typically starts with “Well, the Bible says …” rather than asking, “Well, what does the data say?” (For the record, I actually have no problems with the theory of evolution, I just assume it has only had several thousand years to work with.)

    Point being, that mindset I just described is exactly the same one everyone’s slagging the Muslims for. It’s not really open to questioning, at least on matters of faith. Of course, I’m a fan of the scientific method in general, but how is my approach to the first three chapters of Genesis any better than the Islamic fundamentalism we’re all decrying?

    And sorry, but I really don’t see the several claims of evolution just being this silly collection of guesses as bearing much resemblance to reality. I’ll admit that I haven’t read any philosophers that Bror mentions, but I’m not terribly likely to go to a philosopher to learn about science, I guess. Maybe that demonstrates my ignorance, somehow?

    I think evolution is fairly well-thought-out, as I understand it — it’s just that it rests on a few key, but untestable, tenets. Tenets which I believe to be mistaken. But only because of what the Bible says. Not because of my inquiries into any data sets.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Anyhow. Bror (@18), I wasn’t so much referring to Galileo’s specific views on Genesis (about which I am ignorant), as what I think his quote says in general about viewing the Bible as an expositor of scientific concepts:

    The intention of the Holy Ghost is to teach us how one goes to heaven, not how heaven goes.

    This appears to fly in the face of the views of most modern Evangelicals, as well as most (theologically conservative) Lutherans that I know, in which Genesis is meant to be read as given more to explaining scientific truths than spiritual ones.

    And let me again say that I still subscribe (if without much real interest or enthusiasm) to the literal, six-day creation. But in so doing, I’m very aware of how this makes my approach to many parts of modern science — cosmology, biology, etc. — one in which any answer typically starts with “Well, the Bible says …” rather than asking, “Well, what does the data say?” (For the record, I actually have no problems with the theory of evolution, I just assume it has only had several thousand years to work with.)

    Point being, that mindset I just described is exactly the same one everyone’s slagging the Muslims for. It’s not really open to questioning, at least on matters of faith. Of course, I’m a fan of the scientific method in general, but how is my approach to the first three chapters of Genesis any better than the Islamic fundamentalism we’re all decrying?

    And sorry, but I really don’t see the several claims of evolution just being this silly collection of guesses as bearing much resemblance to reality. I’ll admit that I haven’t read any philosophers that Bror mentions, but I’m not terribly likely to go to a philosopher to learn about science, I guess. Maybe that demonstrates my ignorance, somehow?

    I think evolution is fairly well-thought-out, as I understand it — it’s just that it rests on a few key, but untestable, tenets. Tenets which I believe to be mistaken. But only because of what the Bible says. Not because of my inquiries into any data sets.

  • John C

    Dr Luther, while I am reluctant to argue evolution with someone who has a degree in bi0logy, the latest research into the human genome suggests humans cannot be traced to a single couple.
    To get to two people, you would have to postulate that there had been an absolutely astronomical rate of mutation that had produced all these new variants in incredibly short time. These mutation rates are not possible. It would mutate us out of existence.
    In brief, the was no Adam and Eve and no original sin — not according to the scientists.

  • John C

    Dr Luther, while I am reluctant to argue evolution with someone who has a degree in bi0logy, the latest research into the human genome suggests humans cannot be traced to a single couple.
    To get to two people, you would have to postulate that there had been an absolutely astronomical rate of mutation that had produced all these new variants in incredibly short time. These mutation rates are not possible. It would mutate us out of existence.
    In brief, the was no Adam and Eve and no original sin — not according to the scientists.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Well tODD, what can I say here, but I’m not a modern Evangelical. I may be a conservative Lutheran. Yet I do hold that the primary purpose of scripture is to teach us spiritual truths and not scientific ones. That isn’t to say I don’t think scripture hits on scientific points now and then, and that I don’t believe them to be true where it hits on those.
    And tODD, for one The Dr. Koonin that I am reading right now is a scientist not a philosopher, yet he reads the philosophers in making his case. He at least reads Karl Popper. Why? Because Karl Popper is considered to be THE philosopher of Science of the twentieth century. A man who honed in on what the scientific method is and isn’t, who came up with a tool for distinguishing between science and pseudo science. And he’s a philosopher, so he understands that “scientific naturalism” is not a position supported by science, that it can’t be. So yes, it does show a bit of ignorance.
    And the modern state of genome research, which is what I’m reading up on now, and John C. Mentions above, does not support the Darwinian hypotheses as to how evolution might have occured. What is replacing it, seems to me to be more guesses. The assumption of the “molecular clock” is one that I find particularly puzzling. There is a lot assumed there, and it may be somewhat a rational assumption, but it is an assumption that has little evidence going for it, at least it doesn’t have any evidence that has convinced me yet.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Well tODD, what can I say here, but I’m not a modern Evangelical. I may be a conservative Lutheran. Yet I do hold that the primary purpose of scripture is to teach us spiritual truths and not scientific ones. That isn’t to say I don’t think scripture hits on scientific points now and then, and that I don’t believe them to be true where it hits on those.
    And tODD, for one The Dr. Koonin that I am reading right now is a scientist not a philosopher, yet he reads the philosophers in making his case. He at least reads Karl Popper. Why? Because Karl Popper is considered to be THE philosopher of Science of the twentieth century. A man who honed in on what the scientific method is and isn’t, who came up with a tool for distinguishing between science and pseudo science. And he’s a philosopher, so he understands that “scientific naturalism” is not a position supported by science, that it can’t be. So yes, it does show a bit of ignorance.
    And the modern state of genome research, which is what I’m reading up on now, and John C. Mentions above, does not support the Darwinian hypotheses as to how evolution might have occured. What is replacing it, seems to me to be more guesses. The assumption of the “molecular clock” is one that I find particularly puzzling. There is a lot assumed there, and it may be somewhat a rational assumption, but it is an assumption that has little evidence going for it, at least it doesn’t have any evidence that has convinced me yet.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    John C, I know of the study you to which you are referring. I believe it has narrowed it down to eight ancestors, which is a happy theological number except for one thing, the study was based on mitochondrial dna which is only inherited from the mother. Now the study was interesting but it has a major flaw, lack of physical evidence. We have been able to extract some archeological dna samples but not enough to do such a study with a great deal of confidence. Archeological DNA is quite rare because DNA does not preserve well.

    Science does have a doctrine of original sin. It is called the Law of entropy. Though not exactly alike the doctrine of original sin, it does pick up on the idea everything is falling apart.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    John C, I know of the study you to which you are referring. I believe it has narrowed it down to eight ancestors, which is a happy theological number except for one thing, the study was based on mitochondrial dna which is only inherited from the mother. Now the study was interesting but it has a major flaw, lack of physical evidence. We have been able to extract some archeological dna samples but not enough to do such a study with a great deal of confidence. Archeological DNA is quite rare because DNA does not preserve well.

    Science does have a doctrine of original sin. It is called the Law of entropy. Though not exactly alike the doctrine of original sin, it does pick up on the idea everything is falling apart.

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