Evolutionary Creation 4 (RJS)

We’ve been working through Denis O. Lamoureux’s book Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution – a book that describes a way to move beyond the creation and evolutions debates. In the posts Tuesday we discussed the question of divine action in creation. Today we will look at another topic from the third chapter of the book, The Creator in a Designed and Evolving Universe. After his discussion of divine action Dr. Lamoureux covers the question of  intelligent design in creation. This topic is sure to incite some difference in opinion and perspective – it should be exciting. (He also has a good discussion of the anthropic principle – but this we’ve discussed in the past, and Dr. Lamoureux offers no significantly different perspective, so I am not going to revisit it in the context of this book.)

Dr. Lamoureux points to Psalm 19 and Romans 1 in describing the features of intelligent design in creation. First Psalm 19:1-4 (NASB)

The heavens are telling of the glory of God;

And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.

Day to day pours forth speech,

And night to night reveals knowledge.

There is no speech, nor are there words;

Their voice is not heard.

Their line has gone out through all the earth,

And their utterances to the end of the world

Five features of natural revelation are identified in this passage. It is active, intelligible, incessant, universal, and divine.  The creation is active as it tells and declares, the message is intelligible as it reveals knowledge, the declaration is incessant day to day and night to night, it is universally available through all the earth to the end of the world, and it is divine or transcendent being written in the heavens and expanse.

Romans 1:18-23 affirms these five features and adds a sixth – the natural revelation in creation judges.   Here we see not only the nature of general revelation in creation, but the consequence of this revelation. Natural revelation is not merely awe at the majesty and intricacy of the world, but is written into our being as moral understanding.

What do conclusions do you draw from these passages.

What are the features of design in the world around us?

Dr. Lamoureux takes his discussion of design in creation one step further with a position that he admits is somewhat controversial. Intelligent design in creation is conclusive to the point of legal,  but not mathematical, certainty – it is not proven, yet it is beyond a reasonable doubt. When the intelligent design embedded in creation is not seen for what it is, pointing to God, the reason is is not the insufficiency of natural revelation, but the impact of sin on human thinking. Spiritual state shapes the receptiveness to design.

In refusing to acknowledge God, religious skeptics need to concoct reasons to explain away the powerful impact of intelligent design in order to maintain their own psychological stability and comfort. However, the Bible affirms the sufficiency of nonverbal revelation in nature, and the proficiency of the human mind to understand it fully, if used judiciously. I contend that a fair and honest assessment of the character of the physical world leads to the truth that design is real and that it reflects the general characteristics of an Intelligent Designer. (p. 75)

Dr. Lamoureux is not looking for gaps in the current or  potential explanatory power of evolutionary biology.  In fact he suggests that looking to undermine evolution in order to prove design misunderstands the nature of the design. The concept of design is not defended by opposing evolution but by looking, with eyes that can see, at all of the world around us. There is a balance between artistic character and engineered character that points to design and Designer; beauty, harmony, and utility all play a role.

To flesh this out a bit Dr. Lamoureux makes the following points about a biblically based view of design in creation (p. 78-79):

The artistic and engineered features in nature are not proof for intelligent design. In fact the search for proof “overlooks the fact that there is an intellectual-spiritual jump from the physical evidence to its metaphysical assessment.

The world is not merely suggestive of or consistent with design and a designer. To water down the claim to this level is inconsistent with scripture – especially Psalm 19 and Romans 1. “Moreover, these epistemological positions fail to recognize human experience throughout history. Every generation has been powerfully impacted by nature, and almost everyone has accepted that it affirms the existence of an Intelligent Designer.

Romans 1 states that all are without excuse. “Thus natural revelation is within the intellectual grasp of humans in such a way that we are all accountable for its identification and implication.

These three points lead to an important conclusion …”intelligent design in nature is knowable by all men and women to the certainty level of an argument. This knowledge is neither absolutely certain nor merely arbitrary. Rather, everyone is responsible for dealing with design and its consequences.” There is a metaphysical jump from evidence to the meaning, to religious assessment, but the leap is based on reason and logic. We have the ability to assess the artistic and engineered aspects of creation, but this ability is impeded by the impact of sin on human reason. Here Dr. Lamoureux points in particular to the first and second commandments – “You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol.”  Anyone or anything placed worshiped before God will  cloud the ability to recognize purpose and design in the world.

He summarizes:

In sum, evolutionary creation presents an ontologically balanced model of intelligent design that is epistemologically rooted in human accountability before God. It affirms both the sufficiency of natural revelation and the proficiency of men and women to understand the non-verbal Message written into nature.  This approach to design is consistent with Christian tradition and is based firmly upon the  Bible. Evolutionary creationists view modern science as a gift from God and contend that as scientists probe deeper into the physical world, greater and more magnificent revelations of the Creator’s glory, power, and divinity will emerge. This origins position asserts that the evolutionary sciences are also a divine blessing. Evolutionary creation predicts that as these disciplines advance, discoveries will reveal a design-reflecting world that features unimaginably more planning and splendor than previously believed in earlier generations. (p. 81)

There are some interesting thoughts here, well worth considering, so lets start a conversation.

What do you think of this view of intelligent design in creation? Does it go far enough? Too far?

Does sin color human ability to recognize God’s artistic and engineered design in the world around us?

It you wish to contact me directly you may do so at rjs4mail[at]att.net

If interested you can subscribe to a full text feed of my posts at Musings on Science and Theology.

For those who find the full book (400+ pages) somewhat daunting Dr. Lamoureux has condensed the book into a more accessible version, I Love Jesus & I Accept Evolution. He also provides audio and slide summaries of each chapter of Evolutionary Creation online.

Picture Credit: Jeff Hester and Paul Scowen (Arizona State University), and NASA (public domain). Star-Birth Clouds in M16: This eerie, dark structure is a column of cool molecular hydrogen gas and dust that is an incubator for new stars.  The color image is constructed from three separate images taken in the light of emission from different  types of atoms.  Red shows emission from singly-ionized sulfur atoms. Green shows emission from hydrogen.  Blue shows light emitted by doubly- ionized oxygen atoms.

  • http://thedesignspectrum.wordpress.com/ pds

    “The concept of design is not defended by opposing evolution but by looking, with eyes that can see, at all of the world around us.”

    But ID proponents don’t “oppose evolution.” They see both evolution and design in biological history. I don’t see where you or Lamoureux explain why we should rule out design in biological history. He affirms design in the multiple layers of fine-tuning. Why shouldn’t we ask how far that fine-tuning extends into biological history?

    I think Michael Behe’s discussion and graph discussed here is more persuasive:

    http://thedesignspectrum.wordpress.com/2010/10/12/michael-behes-design-spectrum/

  • http://thedesignspectrum.wordpress.com/ pds

    Wow, just read the section praising Michael Denton and “Nature’s Destiny” beginning on p. 87. Denton is saying much the same thing as Behe: random mutation and natural selection are not sufficient. Why all the fighting? Lamoureux and Behe don’t seem to be that far apart. They are just on different points on the design spectrum.

    BTW, Denton’s 1985 “Evolution: A Theory in Crisis” played a huge role in the history of the ID movement. My ID history timeline is here:

    http://thedesignspectrum.wordpress.com/2010/10/18/history-of-intelligent-design-timeline/

  • rjs

    pds,

    There is much in this chapter of the book that we could discuss, so I just selected two topics to concentrate on. I’m not going to wander off in other directions.

    But one of the things you often bring up in our discussions is Romans 1 and the idea that the message of creation is clear. So I wonder here… what do you think of Dr. Lamoureux’s interpretation and conclusions drawn from these passages? Is failure to recognize the work of God in creation broadly speaking a result of human sinfulness?

  • Tim

    I see God in nature, very much so. But that is an inherently subjective assessment. To jump from that assessment and say that anyone else who doesn’t see God in nature is somehow putting blinders on is not something I consider appropriate for me to do right now.

    I can’t really put my finger on why doing so rubs me the wrong way, but I think it might have something to do with wanting to avoid being too arrogant. To claim not just that my subjective impression is the right one, but that everyone else who doesn’t “get it” is just stubbornly refusing to see the obvious is something that doesn’t acknowledge the fallibility in my own perspective or all the nuance involved with what factors influence how we see the world around us.

  • normbv

    Anthropologically speaking it appears that there is an inherent desire in peoples of the world to identify a being or beings that controlled nature. The American Indians had the Great Spirit and some such as the Iroquois appeared to have it limited to just One Great Spirit over nature. It seems to point to the idea that we have been created to recognize God through natural means. People like Dawkins would probably call it a biological flaw but the other side of the coin is that it may be an inherent nature that draws us to the One True God.

    I don’t think I would classify the lack of discernment of God as a sin because it comes across poorly IMO. However the implication is there that if we have been created to recognize God then to turn our discerning eye away does infer we deceive ourselves.

  • http://www.gettingfree.wordpress.com T

    I don’t know if the intellectual and spiritual are or can be so separated as to describe a “jump” from one to the other. But on the whole, I think this argument has a great deal of merit. As a lawyer, I resonated with this:

    “Intelligent design in creation is conclusive to the point of legal, but not mathematical, certainty – it is not proven, yet it is beyond a reasonable doubt. When the intelligent design embedded in creation is not seen for what it is, pointing to God, the reason is is not the insufficiency of natural revelation, but the impact of sin on human thinking. Spiritual state shapes the receptiveness to design.”

    One of the conclusions that I see too often is that since God’s work in creation or otherwise can’t be scientifically proven, then it’s just plain irrational to believe. Scientific methods and standards for what is “proven” are not the only or even primary methods people use to make very serious, rational decisions every day; and the legal comparison is appropriate and illustrative of the quantity and import of decisions that rely on other methods almost entirely. Many (most?) matters that require action, whether by individuals or governments, are not possible or practical to study to a scientific level of scrutiny and certainty before decision time. Nature does cry out. It does tell us of God’s divine nature and power. And whether intentional or not, our experiences, preferences, goals, and spiritual state all effect how and what we hear or see.

  • http://thedesignspectrum.wordpress.com/ pds

    RJS,

    Both of these posts and the relevant sections of the book have been very interesting. I would love to read more. Why is it so expensive on Amazon?

    I like what he says about Romans 1. He sounds somewhat like Dallas Willard on the power of design arguments. Willard says cosmological and design arguments are so strong they give us knowledge that God exists. I am not sure I would go that far, but I think the church has undersold these arguments for too long.

    Darwinism has created a myth in our culture that design arguments from nature have been defeated. I think that is a tragedy that has to be corrected. If you want to sell evolution to the church like Biologos does, you should also be pointing out that evolution does not defeat design arguments. Very strong design arguments persist, no matter how much of evo theory is true.

    Consumer Christianity tends to tell the world “Believe in God if you feel like it, if He can meet a need for you.” Judgment for rejecting his revelation in nature is nowhere to be found. I am not sure how to articulate it, but I think we can do better.

  • http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure Denis O. Lamoureux

    #1 PDS writes:
    “But ID proponents don’t “oppose evolution.” They see both evolution and design in biological history.”

    Well, if this is the case, why did I debate Phil Johnson (in an entire book)? Michael Behe? Jonathan Wells? and Robert Larmer (Canada’s leading ID Theory guy)?

    ID is an anti-evolutionary movement that sets up another false dichotomy: this time between evolution and design.

    Denis

  • http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure Denis O. Lamoureux

    #7 PDS writes:
    “Why is it so expensive on Amazon?”

    It’s because all books from Wipf & Stock are like that. So plse send them a note of complaint.

    And you can also thank all the main evangelical publishers. They wouldn’t even look at my manuscript. Whether you like to believe it or not, there is censorship that goes on in evangelical circles.

    Denis

  • http://thedesignspectrum.wordpress.com/ pds

    Denis,

    OK, I should clarify that they disagree with some aspects of evolutionary theory, and this depends on the specific person involved.

    This from the Discovery Institute:

    Is intelligent design theory incompatible with evolution?

    It depends on what one means by the word “evolution.” If one simply means “change over time,” or even that living things are related by common ancestry, then there is no inherent conflict between evolutionary theory and intelligent design theory. However, the dominant theory of evolution today is neo-Darwinism, which contends that evolution is driven by natural selection acting on random mutations, an unpredictable and purposeless process that “has no discernable direction or goal, including survival of a species.” (NABT Statement on Teaching Evolution). It is this specific claim made by neo-Darwinism that intelligent design theory directly challenges.

    You said,

    “ID is an anti-evolutionary movement that sets up another false dichotomy: this time between evolution and design.”

    You should know that Michael Behe bends over backwards to debunk that false dichotomy.

  • http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure Denis O. Lamoureux

    #5 normbv writes:
    “I don’t think I would classify the lack of discernment of God as a sin because it comes across poorly IMO. However the implication is there that if we have been created to recognize God then to turn our discerning eye away does infer we deceive ourselves.”

    Political correctness will not shape my theology. If sin is operative in a person’s rejection of the non-verbal revelation in nature (and with that the rejection of God), then I’m going to call it what it is. The worst thing we can do as Christians is candy-coat the central problem of all humans–we are sinners. And central to the notion of sin, is that we sin against God.

    Regards,
    Denis

  • http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure Denis O. Lamoureux

    #10 pds.

    You seem to miss the point completely. ACTIONS speak louder than WORDS. Don’t get suckered by their rhetoric.

    Why then have I debated all these ID guys? They all know that I am an evangelical Christian, and therefore not a neo-Darwinist.

    The answer is simple: ID theory is anti-evolutionary.

    I know these guys personally. Dembski & Meyer are progressive creationists–they told me so. Nelson is a young earther (and rumors have it that so is Johnson)

    Denis

  • http://thedesignspectrum.wordpress.com/ pds

    Denis,

    You seem to be pretty “anti-design in biology.” Perhaps that’s why they debated you? I would have to see the debates to know where you disagreed.

    “They all know that I am an evangelical Christian, and therefore not a neo-Darwinist.”

    Those two are incompatible? What aspects of neo-Darwinism do you reject?

    What about Behe?

  • http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure Denis O. Lamoureux

    Now I have to add a comment about Behe because he is different (and I might add, I really like him, he’s a terrific guy & Christian). In our exchange in 1999 in the Canadian Catholic Review he said this:

    “ID is compatible with a lot of different scenarios for how the information was placed into the system. It could have been present in the initial conditions of the Big Bang or added over time somehow. . . . My official position is agnostic: I think we don’t have enough information yet to decide how the design was implemented.”

    So think about what is being said here. Just three years earlier in his book Darwin’s Black Box, Mike sends the whole evangelical world into a frenzy with the idea that there are so-called irreducible complex structures that could not have evolved through natural processes. And here he doesn’t know. So, what’s his view?

    It’s just another example that even the leading ID guys don’t really know what ID Theory is.

    Denis

  • http://thedesignspectrum.wordpress.com/ pds

    Denis,

    In Darwin’s Black Box he said there are irreducibly complex structures that could not have evolved through Darwinian processes. That is, more than random mutation and natural selection is required. He has never backed away from that.

    His other statement is about how the design was implemented. How the design was placed in the system.

    Do you not see the distinction?

  • normbv

    Denis #11

    Ok, I will grant you the high ground there theologically speaking. However I still believe we need to be careful of not turning off people before they hear the message. I didn’t want to infer that you were wrong but prudent language doesn’t always require bluntness right out the gate. I’m sure we could debate the nuance of this until the cows come home so I’ll leave it there.

    Blessings

    Norm

  • http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure Denis O. Lamoureux

    #13 pds
    “You seem to be pretty “anti-design in biology.” Perhaps that’s why they debated you?”

    Goodness gracious! It is painfully obvious you aren’t reading the book. Pages 87-90 are focused on design in biological evolution by summarizing Denton’s work. Who BTW was at the 1996 ID conference at BIOLA. He was completely outraged at how anti-evolutionists (like ID) have co-opted his work. We spent the conference confronting the ID theory people.

    Denis

  • Tim

    I have to admit this post gets a little under my skin.

    I think what is really bothering me is a type of “knowism” that is implicit in Lamoureux’s advocacy for his view.

    This basically comes down to a question of faith with respect to knowledge. Faith, as a term, means a myriad of things to a myriad of people. But in the context I am using it, I am equating it with an act of reaching out to put your trust in something that you can’t really establish for certain (legal or mathematical, to use Lamoureux’s definitions).

    Now, some people object to this idea of faith (I imagine Lamoureux might be one such person). For many Christians, particularly Evangelicals (though not exclusively so), and within Evangelicals, particularly fundamentalists (still not exclusively so) they equate their faith with either total or at least practical dead certainty. For them, if there ever was a reaching out to place their trust in something they couldn’t really know for certain, that phase has passed – they’ve now validated their beliefs and there is no meaningful uncertainty on at least the core of their faith.

    The above view with respect to subjective matters I term “knowism”, and I personally feel it is a mistake (and no I’m not “certain”).

    Look around you, at all the beliefs held so strongly by so many different groups of people. Not just outside Christianity where you have groups of Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Nature-based religions, Pantheists (a lot of scientists could fit within this category, including Einstein), etc., but even within Christianity there is striking variance on a wide array of issues of deep spiritual import to a lot of people.

    At some point you have to acknowledge that each person has to go on their own journey, often within the context of their community or tradition that is moving along on a journey of their own as well. To just proclaim that all others who disagree with your subjective impression of truth, unverifiable beyond you own intuition, are somehow stubbornly blind (not a term Lamoureux used but to me disrespectful to other people’s journeys.

    You can of course say that you believe they are wrong, and that you feel you have good reasons for coming to that view. That’s fine. But it is the undercurrent of disrespect and condemnation that (rightly or wrongly) I am picking up in this post that gives me pause.

  • Josh Mueller

    I enjoyed Denis’ lecture here in Edmonton a couple years ago and agree for the most part with his assessment. I’m just not sure whether it’s really helpful to introduce certainty about natural revelation as a legal category. I believe that Paul is making less of a legal argument in Romans 1 than pointing out the epistemological roots of idolatry and consequently the universal need for salvation.

    Way too often Christian apologetics has misused valid arguments (from the perspective of the believer) as a weapon instead as a personal witness to illustrate why we believe what we believe. Remember Josh McDowell’s “Evidence that DEMANDS a verdict”? Once we start making demands of people who are either struggling with doubt or plainly opposed to our convictions, we may be able to hold our own in a spirited debate but we are not going to win anybody over.

    From an atheistic perspective it would be fairly easy to dismantle Denis’ argument as hermeneutically circular reasoning. And since he admits the absence of absolute proof, the question then arises what this relative certainty can accomplish other than reassure the believers that there is sufficient evidence of God’s power and creativity in nature – IF you have eyes to see it!

  • Tim

    …should be: “To just proclaim that all others who disagree with your subjective impression of truth (as to God’s hand in nature in this instance), unverifiable beyond you own intuition, are somehow stubbornly blind (not a term Lamoureux used I know, but seemed to be implicit in the language of his argument) is to me disrespectful to other people’s journeys.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    I wish I was more articulate, but this is as best I can do for now.

    I still find the whole argument for any type of design to be circular and a non-starter for a couple of reasons. Denis, if I am missing the point then I would love to be set right.

    First, any universe where we found ourselves as sentient beings would be an incredible place. The only way it would not be an incredible place would be if there were obvious things that happened to sustain life and make our existence happen that could not be explained through natural sciences. The trajectory of natural science indicates that we may never find something that cannot be explained by natural science. So, we are basically saying that if we saw god acting it would prove god, and because we don’t see god acting it proves god. That is not a valid argument.

    Second, we would have to recognize beauty in any world where there is no god. Beauty is highly contingent on surroundings and society and those are what dictates beauty, not objective truths. Therefore to say the beauty of creation indicates there is a god makes no sense at all since we would find some things beautiful even in a universe without a god.

    Having said all of that, it does make sense to me that the heavens and the earth proclaim the glory of god not from a proof of origin or design standpoint but from a sufficiency standpoint. If god created then whatever is, is a testament to that glory. But the glory is not an indication of the god creating. For example, take my life, or the life of an arbitrary well off American citizen. It will be adequate to say that their life (meaning family, house and property, job etc) is a testimony to the glory of America. Or the glory of man’s ingenuity. Or of DRT’s greatness. Or of god’s glory. They are all true depending on the assumption made up front. You could also say it is testimony to the power of George Washington. All of these may be true, but they do not prove that they are true of themselves.

    Summary – It seems to me that the elements of design are never a proof of god or god’s method of creation, even though it may be true. Therefore the idea that we can look at creation and divine the existence of design seems to be suspect. But if we are to believe the teachings of the bible then we can appreciate the design of the universe and give glory to god.
    Active – It can declare god but it can also declare no god because any creation with us in it would be declarative.
    Intelligible – No, only with first presuming the answer. A universe without a god would also be proclaiming intelligence in the same sense.
    Incessant – Any universe with or without god ill always be consistent and incessant. It would be more of a proof of god if it were not incessant.
    Divine – No, a universe that had obvious god interactions and not just complex appearance would be more likely to be attributable to god, not less. You only get divine by assuming it first.

  • http://www.gettingfree.wordpress.com T

    Tim,

    I appreciate your concern, and I’m no advocate for arrogance. That said, Christianity is going to be make claims about all of us that will compete with existing claims we already hold and maybe prefer; and the disagreement will produce charges of “arrogance” in both directions. For example, whether scripture says, “Nature testifies to God” or “the fool says in his heart ‘there is no God’” or “No one knows the Father except the Son” or several such similar statements, the charges of arrogance are made in response by many, and seem abundantly fitting. “Arrogance” seems to be what the Pharisees were frequently thinking of Jesus, and he about them.

    I guess my question would be, “Is there an arrogance in this post that isn’t equally or more present in the biblical assertions themselves?” We just discussed a few posts ago whether the God of the OT is a narcissist. Clearly, many people read OT and/or NT claims and respond with that conclusion, “How arrogant!” I agree that many Christians use biblical assertions in an arrogant way, but I didn’t see that in this post. It seemed to be discussing biblical assertions in the context of what creation tells all of us. If the discussion had been about “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me” could we escape the charge of arrogance?

  • http://thedesignspectrum.wordpress.com/ pds

    Denis #17,

    “It is painfully obvious you aren’t reading the book.”

    I never said I was reading the book. I said I want to read your book. I read some on Google Books. I cited the same passage on Denton in comment #2 above. In #13, I was thinking of some of the passages RJS discussed in the last post. You sometimes seem hostile to ID, sometimes not. I am still trying to figure out your position.

  • http://thedesignspectrum.wordpress.com/ pds

    Denis #12,

    “They all know that I am an evangelical Christian, and therefore not a neo-Darwinist.”

    Those two are incompatible? What aspects of neo-Darwinism do you reject?

  • AHH

    One thing should be noted about Lamoureux’s claim about Romans 1: Thus natural revelation is within the intellectual grasp of humans in such a way that we are all accountable for its identification and implication.
    Paul wrote Romans almost 2000 years ago, saying that all people should (were they not blinded by sin) be able to see God in nature. Not scientists and philosophers 2000 years later, but common people in Paul’s day. Therefore, he was not talking about things unknown in his day like the bacterial flagellum or the fossil record; he was talking about things like sunsets and stars and the grand diversity of the creation.

    While I’m not sure I buy the “beyond a resonable doubt” part, I am in agreement with Lamoureux that sin blinds people to seeing God evidenced in nature. This is a very important point. If being estranged from God keeps people from seeing this, it means that using “natural theology” as an apologetic starting point is a dubious strategy.

    Much of this (but not the beyond a reasonable doubt part) sounds like the sort of modest natural theology recently written about by Alister McGrath, where natural theology is not expected to convince unbelievers but is supportive to the faith of those whose eyes have been opened.
    Dr. Lamoureux, could you comment on similarities and/or differences between your view and that of McGrath?

  • Tim

    T,

    “I guess my question would be, “Is there an arrogance in this post that isn’t equally or more present in the biblical assertions themselves?””

    In answer to your question, no. But I never claimed that OT or NT authors couldn’t express arrogance (they were human after all).

    Also, I would be careful how you apply the term Christianity: “That said, Christianity is going to be make claims about all of us that will compete with existing claims we already hold and maybe prefer; and the disagreement will produce charges of “arrogance” in both directions.”

    Christianity means different things to different people. It certainly does not mean that you have to have certitude in your faith. A lot of people are Christians and understand that they put their faith in something out there for which they can’t be completely sure is real. But they choose to trust that it is. It’s not the “truth claim” that I find arrogant. We all have those. It’s the disregard for the subjective ambiguity we all live with as humans as pertains to each individual’s struggle to connect to deeper metaphysical realities.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    AHH said

    “If being estranged from God keeps people from seeing this, it means that using “natural theology” as an apologetic starting point is a dubious strategy.”

    I totally agree. God gives people who sin over to their sin….it is not a way to get away from sin but a way to be away from sin.

    “sounds like the sort of modest natural theology recently written about by Alister McGrath, where natural theology is not expected to convince unbelievers but is supportive to the faith of those whose eyes have been opened.”

    I have suspicion even of that claim and would prefer to state it as it does not refute the claim of God because a godless universe would certainly be wondrous to support life such as ours too.

  • http://thedesignspectrum.wordpress.com/ pds

    AHH #25,

    “Therefore, he was not talking about things unknown in his day like the bacterial flagellum or the fossil record.”

    But we live today. Paul did not believe in Darwinian evolution either. He did not make cosmological fine-tuning arguments either. We live in a world post-Darwin. We need to apply Pauline arguments to our current cultural context.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    ..to be more of a devils advocate, wouldn’t the universe proclaiming the glory of multiple gods be more consistent with the natural claim? It proclaiming the glory of a single extent god seems unlikely..

  • http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure Denis O. Lamoureux

    #25 AHH writes,
    “Dr. Lamoureux, could you comment on similarities and/or differences between your view and that of McGrath?”

    Hi,
    I’m much more “hard-edged” than McGrath on design. For him, the complexity in nature only resonates with the idea of design; for me, it calls us to accountability.

    Or to put it another way: I believe that after we die we will be standing before God. Those skeptics who attempt to argue “there was no evidence” I suspect will be given a slide show of the many times nature hit them with a Ps 19 experience. And I suspect they will then be told that they are “without excuse” for their unbelief. As I said, I pretty hard-edged.

    Best,
    Denis
    PS Why aren’t you guys using your full names?

  • http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure Denis O. Lamoureux

    Now it seems to me this is a pretty evangelical crowd in this forum. You’ll note that RSJ focuses on Rom 1 and Ps 19 in my book. But check this passage below that I also included in Chapter 3 and that comes from the Wisdom 13 in the apocrypha. It predates Paul, and it’s probably what inspired the “without excuse” clause of Rom 1.

    1 For all people who were ignorant of God were foolish by nature; and they were unable from the good things that are seen to know the one who exists, nor did they recognize the Artisan while paying heed to His works;
    2 but they supposed that either fire or wind or swift air, or the circle of stars, or turbulent water, or the luminaries of heaven were the gods that rule the world.
    3 If through delight in the beauty of these things people assumed them to be gods, let them know how much better than these is their Lord, for the Author of beauty created them.
    4 And if people were amazed at their power and working, let them perceive from them how much more powerful is the One who formed them.
    5 For from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator.
    6 Yet these people are little to be blamed, for perhaps they go astray while seeking God and desiring to find him.
    7 For while they live among His works, they keep searching, and they trust in what they see, because the things that are seen are beautiful.
    8 Yet again, not even they are to be excused.
    9 For if they had the power to know so much that they could investigate the world, how did they fail to find sooner the Lord of these things?

    To me, this cranks up Ps 19 and Rom 1 a couple notches.

    For if they had the power to know so much that they could investigate the world AND OPEN THE CELL, how did they fail to find sooner the Lord of these things?

    Denis

  • Tim

    Denis,

    “For if they had the power to know so much that they could investigate the world, how did they fail to find sooner the Lord of these things?”

    Perhaps one explanation is that the deity they are presented with is not one they can believe in. Scot is doing another series that is investigating what many view as atrocities and morally despicable behavior attributed to Yahweh in the OT.

    There are other ways of depicting the God of the OT of course, and some accommodationist hermeneutics generate a picture of God that many would not find reprehensible. But this is not the picture that most atheists, for instance, are presented with. In my view, the atheists are right to reject the God that they do, but one could certainly argue that it is a shame they haven’t been presented with one that they could accept and which I know is available out there to them through Scholars such as Peter Enns and Kenton Sparks.

    So perhaps it’s not so much sin that is getting in the way, but an inaccurate depiction of the God.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Denis writes “PS Why aren’t you guys using your full names?”

    I am certain that everyone has their own reasons, but mine are to cover my sinful nature. I should be either: working harder on the company I own, or , working for the people who are paying me as a consultant, and not spending all this time on Jesus Creed.

    What do you all think? Am I sinning?

    I would be happy to tell you all individually who I am…its just that if someone searched for my name (which is a very uncommon name) they would get an awful lot of Jesus…..

  • rjs

    Denis,

    I found the passage from Wisdom 13 interesting – something I would like to look into more some day. It is interesting to see some of the context for Paul’s comments – and how much of it relates to things we can find in non-canonical sources.

    I couldn’t include everything in a post though – too bad the book is on the expensive side. It is still worth purchasing, for who are interested in the topic.

    With respect to initials instead of names – its simple, for me anyway – Google. Although I do put an e-mail address and generally respond to e-mail. I expect different people have different reasons.

  • http://randomeditations.blogspot.com/ Dan White

    PDS is spot on. I know its somewhat tangential to your focus in this post, but you summarized Lamoureux’s comments regarding efforts to undermine evolution, so I think it’s worth mentioning that ID, in itself, has no implications regarding the possibility of evolution. It has implications for the mechanism of evolution, but not for evolution as a fact. It seems to me that this point is often lost on the popular level, and that has hindered the ID movement when it comes to popular opinion and court battles.
    Dr Lamoureux, seems to be right though; design is not detected by refuting evolution, but by searching for and pointing out design and “artistic character,” regardless of the mechanism.
    I have to admit, I haven’t read the book, but according to what you have detailed above, there seems to be a contradiction in Lamoureux’s position. On the one hand he seems to be saying that as a result of sin, there is an “intellectual-spiritual” (epistemological) gap that cannot be bridged by simply searching for design (I assume he is Reformed in his theology). On the other hand he seems to encourage the perspective of evolutionary creation, because it hopes to reveal a “design-reflecting world that features unimaginably more planning and splendor than previously believed in earlier generations.” My question is, what good does it do? If the problem is sin, what good does it do for evolutionary creationists to support the case of ID, even if it rises to the level of legal certainty. If the point is simply that fully investigating God’s creation is a matter of worship and appreciation, then I suppose there’s no contradiction. If the point is to provide evidence for a case that rises to the level of legal certainty, the only ones who will be convinced are those that have already accepted the idea of an intelligent creator. Do I misunderstand Lamoureux’s position?
    Admittedly, I’m not Reformed, and I read Romans 1:18-20 from a non-Reformed perspective: i.e. those who are able to perceive the truth CHOOSE not to acknowledge it and thus became darkened in their understanding.

    P.S. As I read, I’m instantly reminded of Howard Van Till’s concept of Functional Integrity and a Fully Gifted creation.

  • normbv

    Denis,

    That Wisdom 13 was a good quote and quite forceful in bolstering your proposition.

    You ask about using full names?

    Well some of us are leaders in evangelical churches and simply do not want people stumbling on our names and running back to the church and stirring things up and causing division if they disagree. That is just one of many issues that can arise. Besides burning at the stake may come back in vogue again. :-(

  • Tim

    Normbv,

    The degree of potential hostility you might encounter in your home church for honestly discussing Biblical issues in an open and scholarly context would make a fantastic topic at some point at Jesus Creed. I imagine the problem is fairly widespread, and the way it strikes me personally is that there is some deeper underlying intellectual cancer at play here. Sure you’ve essentially “quarantined” your “dangerous” views outside of your community, but it isn’t you that has the “disease” of intellectual intolerance IMO.

  • http://randomeditations.blogspot.com/ Dan White

    I typed #35 before lunch when there were only 6 or 7 comments and entered it when I returned, so I missed out on some of the relevant comments in-between.

    Begging your pardon.

    Denis, are you saying that sin makes it noetically impossible for us to perceive the truth of design and beauty in the world? Or are you claiming that certain people choose to ignore these things and thus allow that sin to color their perspective, so that, having chosen to reject God, they can/will not perceive him.

    The quote from Wisdom 13 is interesting, but Paul may simply (and, in my mind, is) borrowing the language from that passage. He seems to word his argument quite differently. Paul seems to place a hefty amount of responsibility on those who have rejected God–as if they knew better, but chose to act differently. When they made that choice, God gave them over to the consequences of their choice.

  • normbv

    Tim,

    I was playing around a little with my remarks but I take shepherding a church very seriously. When I teach a class I’m very aware of what I can teach which will bring edification to the members and not my own personal agenda. A church is to be a safe place and I’ve made the mistake before of getting out ahead of some that I teach. I speak from experience concerning trying to force things on people before they are ready and it doesn’t work.

    I don’t think you go at these issues from the local level but do so from a top down approach. I believe that the scholarly crowd will have to be the ones who teach the preachers in a way that can filter down. However cultures have to change enough to allow these issue to become receptive and that simply takes generational periods to accomplish.

  • Tim

    Normbv,

    I hear what you’re saying. I do. But your point of view is one of “how can I best shepherd those in my church,” and that is not what I was specifically speaking to. What I was speaking to was, “why do those in the church jump on (and sometimes outright condemn) persons such as yourselves who bring to the table scholarly propositions for which they are not yet ready?” This is the question I’m asking.

    I suspect it has to do with many of them having been convinced by both leaders and peers within their community that a certain set of principles they ascribe to is de facto identical to God’s view on the matter. When you propose something that challenges their view, to them, you aren’t challenging so much their view, but the truth that they see as coming from God.

    I think this is the intellectual disease at the root of the hostility you might encounter if those at your Church really knew what you were posting here.

  • Ben Wheaton

    So, Tim and normbv, are you saying that scholars are never wrong, the highest point in the theological food chain as it were, and must never listen to the witness of the Church?

  • Ben Wheaton

    I meant of their fellow Christians who are less educated than they are in a certain field?

  • rjs

    Ben,

    I would say that Christian scholars are part of the church. The church should make use of the gifts of all parts – including the Christian scholars.

    This means we must be in dialogue.

    The problem in our evangelical church is that there often is no place for this dialogue to occur – where ideas can be expressed and tested – found wanting or reasonable. The current method is to tell the scholars to shut up or go away.

  • normbv

    Ben,

    No, I did not imply that idea. I’m just presenting a scenario of how religious culture might change. It’s dynamic and has many influences. I do think what we do here and over at Biologos and other forums does provide opportunities today for ideas to filter back up to scholars to a limited extent. However I doubt the scholars would consider us as representational of the church as a whole.

    I might add that I’m not quite as pessimistic about things as Tim may be although I have a passion for change, it could be that in about 20 years he may mellow out a bit.;-)
    I say this in regard to the historical church which has been even more ignorant of theology as a whole than even today. However the key point in Christianity is not getting our theology exactly right but learning the basics of what Christ presented to us about caring and loving each other in spite of our differences. It’s hard to imagine today that theological ignorance is going to disappear anytime soon so that is probably a given. But what needs to keep pushing the envelope is toleration for each other and how we treat our brother whoever he/she may be.

  • Tim

    Ben Wheaton,

    No, I’m not saying that scholars are never wrong. But what I am saying is if even having an honest conversation about scholarly Biblical issues within earshot of fellow-church goers risks slipping your neck into the noose, metaphorically speaking, then there is something seriously wrong with the intellectual climate in many of our churches.

  • Tim

    Normbv,

    I appreciate your optimism, and it might be that this time around your optimism might be warranted. But there are many who have preceded you, decades and decades earlier, who have tried to sound the death knell for communities committed to an intellectually untenable ways of approaching scripture. So far they haven’t been proven right, despite generations coming and going since their declaration was made.

    Having said all that, now is as good a time as any to change these communities, and I see change happening in some places institutions that maintain no small amount of influence in Evangelical communities, such as Wheaton College. But in others, such as Westminster Theological Seminary, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary are entrenching themselves even further in their defunct hermeneutical approach to Scripture.

    It’s not that I’m not optimistic, I am in part. But I want to be realistic at the same time, and the historical track-record on this issue isn’t all that encouraging.

    P.S., I’m not actually all that young by the way Normbv if you pegged me as such. In a few years I’ll be headed into middle age :)

  • Tim

    *Can we get a preview function at Patheos? My grammar in the above is just atrocious and would be easier to correct if I had a preview window. Seriously.

  • http://augustiniandemocrat.blogspot.com/ Irenicum

    A wonderful post RJS, and as an evangelical evolutionist, I very much appreciate the work that Denis is doing. Some day when I have money again I’ll definitely get the book. I also found the thread conversation to be equally fascinating. As in any debate of this type, there’s some talking past each other going on, but I do see real effort being put into speaking as clearly as possible. I’m grateful for that. As to the nic/real name issue: I’ve used my Irenicum nic for many years now in multiple online venues, though in a few I do use my real name. It depends on the “crowd” as to which I choose to use. Google is amazingly powerful, and therefore somewhat scary.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Tim, you have me rolling here. Let’s see, where to start…

    You are young. (period) I am young and I might double your age.

    Many people vilify things that are different than what they know.

    Being right is irrelevant in a church.

    People are generally afraid of change, really afraid, but they don’t recognize they are afraid, instead they vilify you.

    There is no intellectual climate in many of our churches, or in many of our people.

    If you try to be intellectual they don’t understand and then they …..guess what….vilify you.

    When people vilify people in churches they change the name, they satanize you.

    Do you go to church?

    I don’t know how to make the winking smiley. Let me try this ;)

  • Tim

    DRT,

    I appreciate both your comments and your wit. But there is a certain type of disdain and condemnation that occurs within church communities reserved for those who challenge sacred cows.

    This disdain is not the same as what you see in most other areas of life. Sure, people’s blood can get boiling over politics, sports, social issues, etc. In certain exchanges you might even question the moral character of the person who takes the opposing point of view, as you are so sure you’re on the right. And oftentimes people’s opinions are influenced more by issues of social identity, wishful thinking, heuristical short-cuts, confirmation bias skewed assimilation of “facts”, etc. than actual good critical thinking and at least an honest attempt to weigh the evidence at hand.

    But again, this is a different ball-park entirely than what you find in churches. I mean, sure, what I mentioned above is included in what you find in many churches. But many church communities go further and litterally equate their conclusions concerning scripture with the actual mind of God. I mean, in any of the above examples I gave, whether with respect to politics, social issues, what have you, you can at least have a conversation. But even asking the question in the first place, just introducing the conversation in many churches gets you looks the same as some accused witches no doubt received at Salem (this might be just a hair short of hyperbole).

    In answer to your question, I’ve attended Church almost every Sunday till the age of 18, fairly regularly after that while in College, periodically when I was in the US Navy, and I stopped when I could no longer believe much of what was being preached in the pulpit. Perhaps there is a church out there for me, but right now I am still charting my own course for truth and we’ll see where the future takes me.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Tim, thanks for your candid response. I don’t have time at this moment to do a job the you deserve, so I will defer, hopefully tomorrow.

    But, one comment, I contend that the reaction in or out of church is the same, it’s just that the perceived side of righteousness gives people unwarranted confidence in the church setting. I think you would agree about my church part of that, but the lesson is more in the non-church part. People are more judgmental than you can believe and you will generally be the last person they share their assessment with.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Yikes! BTW Tim, I don’t mean to incapacitate or stop you from being yourself. All I am saying is that you generally have to fill in the details, slowly fill in the details, in going from point A to point B for most people because they are not filling them in the way you do. Slowly. Slowly.

    Dave

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    And one more…………..it pays to realize that you are seeking truth, and for many the church experience is much more akin to defending the position (read that as stature) that they have attained in the church. Threats to their perceived stature in the church (how much of the bible they know, how right they are with theology, how generous they are etc) is what happens when they are questioned. It is not about the issue, it is about the fact that what they profess is questioned….or improved on…..

  • Richard Speyer

    For those who are put off by the price of the book, there are places cheaper than Amazon to buy it. I found Book Depository to be the cheapest.

  • Tim

    DRT,

    Thanks for your comments, and no worries on any misinterpretations. I get that your comments are meant to be largely encouraging in nature.

    Anyway, I do think you latched onto something in how many church-goers switch into stature-defense mode fairly easily. I do think I part ways a little though in terms of many not being in Church to pursue a path of pursuing truth. I mean, I do agree that many erroneously feel they have already nailed several of the answers. But even among these Christians they largely seem focused on “drilling deeper” into understanding scripture and “maturing” as a Christian both in knowledge and virtue.

    Of course, the fact that so many are going about doing this with an inviolable list of a priori doctrines they refuse to examine/challenge doesn’t help much, particularly when many of those doctrines have been called into question and formulated off of a defunct Biblical hermeneutic overly literalistic and denialist of any factual errors or discrepancies in the text.

  • John I.

    Q1. What do you think of this view of intelligent design in creation? Does it go far enough? Too far?

    Q2. Does sin color human ability to recognize God’s artistic and engineered design in the world around us?

    Dawkins, et al., argue that any belief in intelligent design (broadly considered) is but a belief in an illusion, brought about either as an adaptive development, or a non-adaptive development that is a side-effect of other developments that more than offset the maladaption of belief in non-human design.

    Is such a belief wrong merely because of the noetic effects of sin? or is it also rationally wrong? Either way, one must understand what is meant by “design” and “intelligent” and by their combination. In this regard the efforts of the ID community (where intelligent design is understood more narrowly as referring to the P. Johnson group(s)) are useful and effective. That community has made efforts to understand what is meant by the term, and what is meant by “information”, and their work has also resulted in other groups doing further work in the same area.

    It seems to me to be too premature at this time to limit intelligent design to a front loading of the universe so that it rearranges matter / energy until there are satellites orbiting earth. A front loading position of this type is more open to an atheist interpretation of the universe, because once the ball gets rolling the explanations are the same for both the theist and the atheist. The only question to dispute is how the ball got rolling.

    A front loading view is not, I suggest, as consistent with what we know about God’s interaction with his universe as is a more interventionist view. God’s revelation of what he has done is a record of his interventions. It is thus not unreasonable at all to expect that he would also intervene, so to speak, in his universe prior to his recorded interventions in the Bible. God’s modus operandi seems to be to create things that are not fully mature, and then to be involved with (i.e., intervene in) them to bring them to maturity and perfection.

    Furthemore, there is also the issue of how God dealt with the powers and principalities and the ruler of this realm prior to humans. If Satan is the ruler of this world, what did he do to or with it prior to humans? How did God respond to that? The Bible gives little insight into this, but if God were to respond to what Satan was doing in his (Satan’s) kingdom, it would require some sort of intervention.

    The front loading explanation also seems to be thin gruel because it offers no adequate way of moving from physics and chemistry (i.e., the initial conditions of the universe) to biology, nor from physicality to consciousness. What exists in this regard is a multitude of speculations to cover an evolution of the gaps and faith that some naturalist explanation will arise.

    Moreover, the belief that God is more clever because he can sink all the billiard balls with one shot, instead of two or more, is inadequate for the same reason as arguments against biological design. For example, it has been argued that X (pick a biological structure) is poor design because it is inefficient, etc. This latter view conceives of God as a mere engineer, interested only in efficiency (or pick your parameter). Is God not also artistic? Creative? The former view limits God to a being that is most clever with a single shot. But why should this be so? Where in the Bible does God present that image as his image? If God is omnipotent, he can sink all the balls with one or more shots, as it pleases him, for his reasons.

    Principally, Gods reasons are relational ones, ones that relate to love and to involvement with the one(s) loved. God’s relational actions are not just in regard to human souls but also in relation to a creation that groans for completion. If so, why shouldn’t we think that God has been relational and involved with the universe since its inception, rather than only being relation to it once humans were on the seen (and only a watcher for the first few billion years).

    regards,
    John I.

  • Nancy Rosenzweig

    I’ve come across this blog very recently and find the discussions on EC to be quite enlightening. I hope you don’t mind a newcomer joining in the conversation.

    One question that has been batted around a bit in this thread is whether the ID theorists are supportive of, or hostile to, evolutionary theory. While it does appear that in general they accept that evolution has occured, they continually argue against evidence that evolution has proceeded through natural mechanisms. In order to claim that such things, like the blood-clotting process that Behe discusses in “Darwin’s Black Box,”  could not have come about through an unguided, gradual process, then they are essentially forced to argue that evolution on its own just doesn’t work. The young-earth and progressive creationists in my church have taken to ID theory for just that reason – because of the denial of the sufficiency of natural processes to account for the complexity of living organisms.

    And so the ID theorists are on a search for the Holy Grail – the subcellular structure or the biochemical process that is so irreducibly complex that we are left with absolutely no choice but to admit that it was Intelligently Designed. But these theorists are missing the forest for the trees – in searching for God in these ever-closing gaps, they diminish the evidence of his work all around us, as described in Psalm 19.

    In their search for proof, they may be inadvertently implying that the evidence on its own is insufficient. As RJS quoted Lamoureux above, “The artistic and engineered features in nature are not proof for intelligent design. In fact the search for proof ‘overlooks the fact that there is an intellectual-spiritual jump from the physical evidence to its metaphysical assessment.’”

    The ID theorists, in arguing that evolution on its own just can’t work and that there must be proof out there, somewhere, that it can’t, are actually supporting the prejudices of two disparate groups of people. The first being the deniers of science, who use their claims as proof that evolutionary theory is a lie. And the second is atheists, like a friend of mine who demanded: “Why doesn’t [God] reveal his truth, unambiguously and directly, to all of us in our hearts, and let us all in on the fun?” My atheist friend, like the ID theorists, does not admit the necessity of making that intellectual-spiritual leap. Neither will be satisfied until there is incontestable proof of God’s existence and actions.

    This may well be one of the epistemological consequences of sin – the arrogant assertion that we must have absolute proof of God’s existence in order to believe. The ID theorists actually make it easier for my friend to remain an atheist. 

    I’m far too inconsequential to be concerned that anyone is googling me.   

  • http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure Denis O. Lamoureux

    #56 John I.
    Dear John,
    A well-written and fine post. A few comments.

    John I. writes:
    “A front loading view is not, I suggest, as consistent with what we know about God’s interaction with his universe as is a more interventionist view. God’s revelation of what he has done is a record of his interventions. It is thus not unreasonable at all to expect that he would also intervene, so to speak, in his universe prior to his recorded interventions in the Bible. God’s modus operandi seems to be to create things that are not fully mature, and then to be involved with (i.e., intervene in) them to bring them to maturity and perfection.”

    You are absolutely correct about the inventionistic character of God’s creative acts in Scripture. And this is one of the reasons why a God-of-the-gaps model is both REASONABLE and LOGICAL (as I said in EC).

    But the question must be asked: Is the Holy Spirit’s intention in revelation to reveal that His creative method included interventions? This is why in Chapters 4-5 I am going to deal directly with Scripture and the issue of concordism.

    Could it be that Scripture features not only an ancient phenomenological perspective of nature (eg 3-tier universe), but that the Holy Spirit accommodated to the level of the inspired writers and his readers/listeners and use an ancient understanding of creative action (ie de novo creation—the quick & complete origins of the universe and life). And if this is so, then like the 3-tier universe, we don’t need to include interventions in origins (ie God-of-the-gaps activity) because it is ultimately an ancient understanding.

    John I. also writes:
    “Moreover, the belief that God is more clever because he can sink all the billiard balls with one shot, instead of two or more, is inadequate for the same reason as arguments against biological design. For example, it has been argued that X (pick a biological structure) is poor design because it is inefficient, etc. This latter view conceives of God as a mere engineer, interested only in efficiency (or pick your parameter). Is God not also artistic? Creative? The former view limits God to a being that is most clever with a single shot. But why should this be so? Where in the Bible does God present that image as his image? If God is omnipotent, he can sink all the balls with one or more shots, as it pleases him, for his reasons.”

    Couple comments: Your first argument doesn’t follow. Sinking all the balls with one shot is more impressive. I once played a lot billiards, and the most I ever sank was 4 balls. But I’ve cleaned the table many times, shot after shot.

    Second, you ask, “Is God not also artistic?” Are you actually reading Chapter 3? The artistic is a major component of my ID model. Check our Chapter 3 on line and slide 16. The artistic character is there.
    http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure/online_ec_chapter_3/index.html

    Best,
    Denis

  • http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure Denis O. Lamoureux

    #57 Nancy Rosenzweig writes:
    “The ID theorists actually make it easier for my friend to remain an atheist.”

    Dear Nancy,
    What a brilliant observation! Indeed, the PASTORAL implications are huge. As Howard Van Till said at the C.S. Lewis Summer Institute in 1994: “The ID Movement is an apologetic tragedy.”

    And I see a similar phenomenon happening at our university every term. Evangelical students arrive steeped in ID Theory ideas, and once they see the evolutionary evidence, their faith takes a beating. And this BTW is not news. Evangelicals leaders have known for years that large numbers of evangelical students entering public university lose their faith after 4 yrs. To put it bluntly, evangelicalism is not competent in preparing the students for university.

    Blessings,
    Denis

  • Thor Ramsland

    PDS #10,
    You wrote:

    –“They all know that I am an evangelical Christian, and
    –therefore not a neo-Darwinist.”

    –Those two are incompatible? What aspects of
    –neo-Darwinism do you reject?

    I suggest the evolutionary creationist rejects the {{double-bracketed}} sections in the definition you provided in your ID quote. See below.

    “However, the dominant theory of evolution today is neo-Darwinism, which contends that evolution is driven by natural selection acting on random mutations, an unpredictable {{and purposeless}} process {{that “has no discernable direction or goal, including survival of a species.}}”

    “Purposeless” is a metaphysical claim, and is rejected by Evolutionary Creationists. Rather, EC’s believe that creation is purposeful (an opposing metaphysical claim).

    The objection to “No *discernable* direction or goal” was addressed already in this thread.

    Also, pick up the smaller version of the book or check out the online lectures as the blog author suggests. You’ll better understand Denis’ position in the whole context, rather than small sections that you get with Google Books.

    -Thor

  • John I.

    RE Howard Van Till

    If anything, that former prof is evidence for the assertion that theistic evolution leads directly to rejection of orthodox Christianity. Van Till is no longer a Christian. Those interested in his journey away from Christianity may wish to read FROM CALVINISM TO FREETHOUGHT: The Road Less Traveled by Howard J. Van Till

    John I.

  • John I.

    Re post 58 and billiard balls.

    Sinking the all the billiard (or pool) balls with one shot is only impressive with respect to a being who is significantly less than omnipotent and who has to learn billiard ball sinking as a skill. It is not impressive at all for an omnipotent being–indeed, we not only expect but assume that he could. The point is that God could just as easily sink all the balls on one shot as he could on any predetermined number of shots. Hence, we need to ask not which is more impressive for a limited human to do, but rather which is God’s own preferred route (one or more shots).

    Yes, I realize Denis engages the artist metaphor or portrayal, but his point and mine are different even though we reference the same metaphor. My point is that if God is going to chose between sinking all the balls with one shot or more than one, the reasons for his choosing cannot be based on a single, or on a simplistic assessment of his reasons. I’m not saying that God did anything for artistic reasons, or for any other reasons either. I’m saying, rather, that God could have acted for many different reasons (other than the one’s postulated by Denis), and that we don’t know what some of them are. Ultimately, God tells us that we will not know all of his reasons, because his ways are higher than ours.

    I see no evidence that the physical “laws” of the universe and the stuff of which it is made were front loaded for the creation of life and the evolution thereof.

    John I.

  • http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure Denis O. Lamoureux

    #62 John I. writes:
    “I see no evidence that the physical “laws” of the universe and the stuff of which it is made were front loaded for the creation of life and the evolution thereof.”

    Fair enough. But is it also fair to say that you have not done much evolutionary science?

    That’s why I did a PhD in evolutionary biology. And I entered as an anti-evolutionist. After three and a half years it became painfully evident that all the “teachings” I had received in Sunday schools, evangelical seminaries, etc was shameful nonsense.

    Regarding Howard Van Till, he is a dear friend. I often wonder if Christians would not that trashed him (including family) whether he would be in a different position. Christians really are charitable on this topic.

    Regards,
    Denis

  • John I.

    True, but I have various kinds of scientists who work as consultants for me and I have to work through and understand their science (e.g., The Soil Chemistry of Hazardous Materials, 2d ed., James Dragun, which I’m currently working my way through).

    Much of what scientists do is repititious, and much is not germaine to any one point they are trying to prove. There is no reason that an intelligent person cannot follow a scientists presentation; it depends on time and effort. One does not need to be a scientist, including one working in evolutionary biology, in order to follow their argument. In addition, an appeal to authority is not a logically persuasive way to argue.

    In other sciences, the scientists have to and do explain matters in such a way as to convince non-specialists–why should this not be true in evolutionary biology? Furthemore, if a scientists says that nuclear fusion works,and this is how it works, then he/she can build a working model to demonstrate it. Evolutionary biology cannot do so, and other leading to investigation that helps us understand biology better, it is rather more like history. Anyway, those are among the reasons why I don’t buy the “if you only got a Phd in evolutionary biology like I did then you too would see the light and be convinced” line of reasoning.

    In any event, my object in writing is not to prove that Lamoureux is necessarily wrong, only that his work is not as convincing as clained and to indicate why I do not find it convincing. At this point in time, I find his hypothesis doubtful and more likely to be wrong than not. However, even if he were correct, it would not end my faith in God, or my belief in the usefulness of science. I would just adjust my view of science just as has been done countless times before whenever a widely accepted theory is overturned (planetary epicycles, humours of the body, spontaneous generation of insects, phrenology, etc.).

    Lastly, regardless of how Van Till was treated, he remains as anecdotal evidence that belief in evolutionary creation / theism will lead one away from Christ, just as there is anecdotal evidence the other way. There are no hard statistics in this area, only hot air as anecdotes prove nothing. Since the evidence for or against God is equivocal, including matters related to science, I’ve never yet found in talking with someone that those issues were definative. There are always underlying moral and other issues that lead them to be more convinced one way or the other by the equivocal evidence, or to back project current beliefs onto their life journey, etc.

    Denis may be right, or wrong, but at least he is actively engaging in a fruitful and temperate manner in a very timely issue.

    John I.


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