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Source: (consider it) Thread: The Death of Darwinism
Neil Robbie
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Has anyone else on Ship Board been following the unfolding ‘battle of the sciences’ between biologists on both side of the philosophical divide…philosophical atheists Dawkins/Gould et al on one side and philosophical theists Behe/Schroeder et al on the other?

If you have, you will know that Darwin’s theory of natural selection as a means for explaining the origin of life and the origin of new species is coming under increasingly objective scientific criticism.

In addition, Richard Dawkins, in his book, ‘Unweaving the Rainbow’, has crossed the line in the sand between ‘science’ and ‘religion’ and boldly asserts the atheistic philosophy which supports his view of the universe. On the other hand, Michael Behe is undermining Dawkin’s authority on such matters by pointing out the ‘irreducible complexity’ of bio-mechanical systems such as blood clotting and cell mechanics, which could not have developed step-by-step as Darwin predicted.

The arguments are numerous and complex and I do not which us to go into them on this thread (perhaps another thread can cover each side of the battle). What we need to discuss are the implications of the potential result for the life church.

Much of the theology of last century was shaped by the ‘scientific’ Darwinian view of the origin of life. If Darwinism proves false, much of last century’s theology will be confined to the dustbin and a refined theology will emerge.

In light of this, I have this question to put to the Board.

If biologists show that life could not have just appeared by chance, if a theory develops requiring an intelligent agent behind the original of life, what will be the outcome for the church?

How will our theology be effected? How our new theology effect the issues surrounding the church in the late twentieth century? What will be the new issues?

Discuss

Neil Robbie


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Gill
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Really interesting thoughts. I suspect it would just result in a revival of Smugness in the church!

There would be huge discussions on the nature of Intelligence, and a resurgence of interest in Erich von Daniken (the guy who led me to Christianity with his ridiculous - to me - theories!).

The Rosewell Conspiracy Theory people would enjoy new respect - at least amongst themselves...

And there might be even MORE money poured into Space research at the expense of the sick and hungry here on Earth.

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Still hanging in there...


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rewboss
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I don't think the whole of Darwinism is going to die. I think it may be modified, like most scientific theories are, as we discover more and more.

Natural selection is about as close to a scientific fact as it's possible to get, so the basic theory of evolution is not under immediate threat. And Darwin himself didn't think of his theories as a replacement for God. God is in charge of evolution, so what's the bg deal?

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The latest from the world of rewboss


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The sceptical Atheist
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I got this in an email from the Vice President of Christians in Science:

quote:

To use God as a basis for specific scientific phenomena seems to me to degrade him to the level of mere explanation in the narrowest sense, and to open the door to his being expelled when some alternative explanation presents itself. That is why I agree with the sentiment (apocryphally attributed to Laplace) that, for cosmology, “we have no need of THAT hypothesis”. The use of “God-in-the gaps” is philosophically dangerous and theologically unjustified. I’d say that a much more Christian/Biblical position is to argue that God is the “explanation” (cause) of ALL phenomena, whether we think we can understand them or not. That is why I cannot agree with the creationists who seem unable to see the trap into which they routinely fall. Make “God” an alternative to “evolution” (say) and if and when the particular case of evolution is demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt, then where is God?



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"Faith in God and seventy-five cents will get you a cup of coffee."
[Wayne Aiken]

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The sceptical Atheist
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BTW,

Darwinism died in the 1940's. It is a case of Darwinism is dead, long live Neo-Darwinsim.

Darwin knew nothing about genetics. The main failure of The Origin is its description of heredity. When Mendels work was rediscovered, in the early 20th century there was a crisis when it was seen as an alternative to Darwinism. It was Biologists like R A Fisher that showed they actually supported each other.

So, Darwinism is a failed theory. Evolution is not. It is a very strong, powerful and well supported theory with no serious detractors.

The hypotheses about how life began on Earth is not so strong. This is not part of the Theory of Evolution, though. The ToE starts when their is something to replicate.

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"Faith in God and seventy-five cents will get you a cup of coffee."
[Wayne Aiken]


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Stephen
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Two points

(1) I'm a bit surprised to find Gould linked with Atkins.In "Rocks of Ages" Gould regards himself as a (Jewish) agnostic....and he is a lot more eirenic than Atkins by a lnog, long way

(2)Thank you Sceptical Atheist for forwarding the E-mail to us.I would be extremely wary of using a scientific model as evidence of God' existence.....hence my reservations in a different thread re the "God" particle.At the moment I think that Evolution is the most likely theory ....like all scientific models this has to be tested against observational evidence of course.
It may surprise you but I have actually a lot of sympathy for Laplace here.As Galileo said in his Letter to the Grand-Duchess Christina ,both the Bible and the "book of nature" are both sources of truth;and Galileo warns against using certain scriptural passages as argument against Copernicanism,arguing instead that Moses accomodated himself to the common person in his use of language.This was also Calvin's argument....

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Best Wishes
Stephen

'Be still,then, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations and I will be exalted in the earth' Ps46 v10


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soupdragon
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It's good to distinguish between those who want to uphold young-earth creationism, and those Christians who believe in evolution but as controlled or established by God as the supreme designer, rather than as a purely random process.

I took a course in this stuff last semester, it was fascinating to see all the different approaches and this is a v trendy area just now. However, Gould isn't much of philosopher - see Rocks of Ages (or don't!) - and Behe's argument has been attacked by many. Al Plantinga (Christian philosopher) has an interesting argument that it's irrational to believe in evolutionary theory if you're *not* a theist, the idea being that it's hugely improbable otherwise. Stephen Stich (not a Christian) argues that there is no good reason for thinking that we would have evolved a reliable reasoning process, given what the evolutionary theory tells us (i.e. one that tells us the truth, as opposed to enabling us just to survive by whatever means). And as Sceptical Atheist says, evolutionary theory has nothing at all to say about how life began.

This could all be good for the church, but (in the US at least) people tend not to be aware of these arguments. Rather, they are either fundamentalist, young-earth types, or naturalists who think that random evolution is 'fact'. I hope this changes...

Sorry if this has been a boring post! I can get some good references on this stuff if anyone is interested though.


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Wulfstan
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I'm not sure that this will affect theology that much, as I never saw theology and evolution to be inimical except with regard to the creationists. What I hope it will do is take the wind out of evangelical atheists like Dawkins who I find somewhat aggressive and uncompromising with regards to any kind of religion at all. The actual empirical evidence for human evolution is pretty small and is subject to regular revisions, such as the new info on carbon dating and its accuracy. This doesn't mean it's wrong, but that a certain amount of faith is required to go along with it! If this results in a lessening of dogmatism on all sides then so much the better.
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John Collins
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I have to say that I don't accept the initial premise of this thread:

quote:
Has anyone else on Ship Board been llowing the unfolding ?battle of the sciences? between biologists on both side of the philosophical divide?philosophical atheists Dawkins/Gould et al on one side and philosophical theists Behe/Schroeder et al on the other?

If you have, you will know that Darwin?s theory of natural selection as a means for explaining the origin of life and the origin of new species is coming under increasingly objective scientific criticism.


I don't think anyone in mainstream science has any more doubts about natural selection than they do about Newton's laws.

There is, alas, a ghetto-like mentality in some Christian circles, thinking that creationism (usually of the "Young-Earth" variety) has to be defended come what may.

I think Behe and his Intelligent Design ideas is just another more palatable manifestation of the same thing.

People who talk about evolution in terms of "random processes" or "chance" don't understand it. Natural selection means that the dice get rolled until you get the "right" result. We wouldn't be here to tell the tale if the rolls didn't come right in the end on some planet somewhere and this is the planet.

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John Collins


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Neil Robbie
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Posts on this thread regarding the philosophy of Darwinism, neo or otherwise, as a ‘fact’ of science, not a theory are interesting, but these answers are missing the point of this thread. Can we leave them for another thread, please?

Let's start to think outside the box.

Let’s just say that Behe is right, and a step-by-step development of cell mechanic can not be proven scientifically.

Just say, what Stephen said in his thread: “At the moment I think that Evolution is the most likely theory ...like all scientific models this has to be tested against observational evidence of course” is shown up by to be no more than wishful thinking on the part of philosophical atheists. What then will be the outcome for the church?

If God is no longer confined to pre-time and subjectivity. If God is active in the universe, what then happens to our theology?

The church suffered a huge identity crisis in the 20th century because of Darwinism. Demythologisation became the dominant theology as Christians tried to shoe horn the Bible into a Darwinian understanding of life. Doubt over the virgin birth and resurrection were the inevitable conclusions of this new theology, because how could Jesus be resurrected by a God with no power in the Universe?

Can we put our prophetic minds together and imagine, at least for a minute, what our theology will be like without Darwinism? (I’m not talking about creationism, young earth or old earth). Or are we so entrenched in a Darwinian worldview that we can not stretch our minds that far?

When we are no longer told that God can not act in space-time, what will the outcome be for the church?

If theistic smugness is the most obvious result, then God please have mercy on us ;-)

Neil


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The sceptical Atheist
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quote:

The actual empirical evidence for human evolution is pretty small and is subject to regular revisions, such as the new info on carbon dating and its accuracy.


I would take issue with this. The evidence for human evolution in general is large and strong.
What is unclear is the actual path it took. We do not have DNA from Lucy so it is controversial whether she is a direct descendant or a cousin. She is someone in our family tree, though. We can be sure of that.

Carbon dating is subject to revision, but if we use it carefully it is accurate. Just this week, there was this BBC News Story which shows that Carbon dating is accurate back 16,000 years and is becoming morew accurate before that.

[link fixed (I think, it was a mess)]

[ 01 July 2001: Message edited by: Erin ]

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"Faith in God and seventy-five cents will get you a cup of coffee."
[Wayne Aiken]


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John Collins
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Further to the point on Carbon dating....

The new evidence would suggest that things are older than previously thought, which is bad news for Creationists.

But of course Carbon dating is not relevant here as it is applicable over thousands of years only, people use other radioactive decay chains to date back older stuff.

Whatever the errors in dating methods may or may not be, they are not of the order which Young Earth Creationists would require - a factor of nearly a million!

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John Collins


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Crœsos
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It is always dangerous to inject religion into any type of scientific inquiry. One of the main reasons for this is that God is an inherently unscientific premise. Which is to say that it is impossible to test most people's conception of God under laboratory conditions. In other words, it is impossible to confine the deity to a beaker. What the assumption of God DOES do, though, is to stifle or kill off other lines of inquiry. Not by Inquisitorial censorship, but because the actions of God are typically assumed to be beyond the realm of science. (i.e. non-replicatable and outside the laws of nature.) For example, if you assume that disease is caused by the wrath of God, there's not much you can do about it, as it is God's will, and thus no progress is made in medical research along those lines. On the other hand, if you assume that diseases have worldly causes, you become naturally inclined to study and research this phenomenon in order to discover some remedy.

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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Wulfstan
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Neil, sorry if I'm staying from the point you wanted to focus on but I think it's relevant. The pre-Darwinist theological model already incorporated much Deism as a result of Newtonian influence: God as the "Divine Watchmaker". Creationism was accepted all too readily and became the standard theological paradigm that no-one thought much about. Darwinism gave the church an enormous kick up the backside and forced them to adapt to changes in knowledge. It did not however, as far as I can see establish deism as the norm. What was established in the 20th century was an equally sloppy idea that science had all the answers and theology should be relegated to the sidelines to which science had relegated it. Much of this so-called science was sloppily thought out and unproved : to whit, eugenics etc.
Various disasters, better science and really freaky dicoveries like quantum theory suggest that we can be nearly as sure about our understanding of the universe as we thought. The hominid fossil collction would fit on to a billiard table and the gaps in the evolutionary record are immense. It's been described as like trying to understand the plot of War and Peace from seven words chosen at random. Saying we know it happened but we don't know how seems to be a contradiction in terms.
I don't buy it that science proved God couldn't act in space time. That's just the feeble argument of a few scientific fundies. If you can't prove He/She/It is there or not scientifically, how can you prove how He operates ("My ways are not your ways"). Consequently, unless you are a creationist, Darwinism should never have bothered you that much in the first place.
Incidently, in Islam this is pretty much a non-issue. Science has traditionally been seen as a form of worship: understanding the creation helps you to understand the greatness of the creator. Could we not learn something here?

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The sceptical Atheist
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The Hominid evidence would need much more than a billiard table. Just check out the photo's in Donald Johansens "Lucy: The Beginning of humankind." They have a picture of a very long table full of fossil hominids just from the one site that they were working at. The famous Leakeys were finding just as many if not more and there were plenty others doing the same. That was in the 1970's!

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"Faith in God and seventy-five cents will get you a cup of coffee."
[Wayne Aiken]

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rewboss
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Well, I hear on the radio that some scientists are having serious doubts about the evidence from mytowhateverit'scalled DNA. If their doubts can be shown to be well-founded, this would make the "out-of-Africa" hypothesis and the idea of a "super-Eve" much less likely.

Is that good or bad news for creationists?

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The latest from the world of rewboss


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Isaiah
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Rewboss wrote:

"Natural selection is about as close to a scientific fact as it's possible to get, so the basic theory of evolution is not under immediate threat."

-----

The sceptical Atheist wrote:

"So, Darwinism is a failed theory. Evolution is not. It is a very strong, powerful and well supported theory with no serious detractors."

-----

John Collins wrote:

"I don't think anyone in mainstream science has any more doubts about natural selection than they do about Newton's laws."

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Wulfstan wrote:

I'm not sure that this will affect theology that much, as I never saw theology and evolution to be inimical except with regard to the creationists.

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Hmmm...

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"Scientists who utterly reject Evolution may be one of our fastest-growing controversial minorities... Many of the scientists supporting this position hold impressive credentials in science."

Larry Hatfield
"Educators Against Darwin"
Science Digest Special, Winter 1979, pp. 94-96

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"In a certain sense, the debate transcends the confrontation between evolutionists and creationists. We now have a debate within the scientific community itself; it is a confrontation between scientific objectivity and ingrained prejudice - between logic and emotion - between fact and fiction. " (pp. 6-7)

"...In the final analysis, objective scientific logic has to prevail - no matter what the final result is - no matter how many time-honored idols have to be discarded in the process." (p. 8)

"... After all, it is not the duty of science to defend the theory of evolution, and stick by it to the bitter end - no matter what illogical and unsupported conclusions it offers.... If in the process of impartial scientific logic, they find that creation by outside superintelligence is the solution to our quandary, then let's cut the umbilical cord that tied us down to Darwin for such a long time. It is choking us and holding us back." (pp. 214-215)

"... every single concept advanced by the theory of evolution (and amended thereafter) is imaginary as it is not supported by the scientifically established facts of microbiology, fossils, and mathematical probability concepts. Darwin was wrong." (p. 209)

"... The theory of evolution may be the worst mistake made in science." (p. 210)

I. L. Cohen, Mathematician, Researcher, Author,
Member New York Academy of Sciences
Officer of the Archaeological Institute of America
Darwin Was Wrong - A Study in Probabilities
New Research Publications, Inc., 1984.

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"The twentieth century would be incomprehensible without the Darwinian revolution. The social and political currents which have swept the world in the past eighty years would have been impossible without its intellectual sanction. ... The influence of the evolutionary theory on fields far removed from biology is one of the most spectacular examples in history of how a highly speculative idea for which there is no really hard scientific evidence can come to fashion the thinking of a whole society and dominate the outlook of an age. Considering its historic significance and the social and moral transformation it caused in western thought, one might have hoped that Darwinian theory ... a theory of such cardinal importance, a theory that literally changed the world, would have been something more than metaphysics, something more than a myth."

Michael Denton, Molecular Biologist
Evolution: A Theory in Crisis
Adler and Adler, 1985, p. 358

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"They can't expect us not to look them over now...now that we've got them exactly where they want us."
(Captain Kirk)


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Wulfstan
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Sceptical Atheist; it was actually the eighties and okay you probably need an extra table or two now, but for a period spanning several millions of years that's still pretty inadequate.
Isaiah; interesting quotes but what's your point? Evolution may not be the clear cut irrefutable truth that some people thought it was, but I don't see a more plausible alternative at present. It's a theory that is subject to dispute, revision and questioning and that has been badly applied by some serious whackos over the years (not unlike religion)but let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Can't we just accept a bit of uncertainty here?

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Isaiah
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My point is that I believe there is abundant evidence for the relevance of Niel Robbie's initial post, despite other contributors to this thread contradicting him.

quote:

Niel Robbie wrote:

"...Much of the theology of last century was shaped by the ‘scientific’ Darwinian view of the origin of life. If Darwinism proves false, much of last century’s theology will be confined to the dustbin and a refined theology will emerge.

In light of this, I have this question to put to the Board.

If biologists show that life could not have just appeared by chance, if a theory develops requiring an intelligent agent behind the original of life, what will be the outcome for the church?..."


I think this is a very important question which should not be dismissed so easily.

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"They can't expect us not to look them over now...now that we've got them exactly where they want us."
(Captain Kirk)


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John Collins
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I think Isaiah is still clinging to the idea that Evolution (or rather as he and the people he quotes define it) and "Darwinism" is the root of every evil in the past century.

The reality is that there are lots of facts in the universe that aren't pleasant or agreeable, but are still true and quoting lots of people with axes to grind like Denton doesn't make them less true. Neither does it help to extend the whole idea of "Evolution" to areas where it doesn't actually belong like cosmology.

I think people have to come to terms with the fact that evolution is about as solid a fact as you can get. Attaching all sorts of connotations to it and attacking it for those supposed reasons is just an example of a strawman argument.

There is nothing wrong with the notion (if you believe in God) that God guided evolution along. It isn't necessary, but it is a respectable belief.

What is wrong is attaching all sorts of stupid philosophical ideas to evolution and making out that people like Hitler based their ideas on it. That is what these Creationist people do - however they lie and misquote freely in the process. How they can do that escapes me - perhaps it belongs in the "Taking God's name in vain" thread.

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John Collins


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Gill
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"...Much of the theology of last century was shaped by the ‘scientific’ Darwinian view of the origin of life. If Darwinism proves false, much of last century’s theology will be confined to the dustbin and a refined theology will emerge.

...If biologists show that life could not have just appeared by chance, if a theory develops requiring an intelligent agent behind the original of life, what will be the outcome for the church?..."

Well I must have totally missed the point of the last century's theology (quite possibly!).
Um... I've always believed in an intelligent agent behind it all and have never noticed that conflicting with my faith. Hence I jumped to the conclusion that you were asking what the outcome would be for how the church saw itself having been proved right. However as I read the thread again, you are asking how it will affect how we see ourselves and our faith...

Well it won't change a lot for me personally.

As for the church, it SHOULD mean that we are more confident and feel affirmed in our previous declarations, surely? Which I still think will lead to smugness!

If you are saying that we aill be moving from an assumption that gradual change and improvement should underpin our lives, I don't know the answer. As an individual it won't change my view, I don't think - at least, not more than it's changing anyway. I have never accepted 'Evolution' (N.B. as it is in its popularized form) as an unchallengable theory - nor does the possibility that it might be, destroy my faith.

I just find it fascinating to learn about all the things we have the ability to question, whether or not they are provable! Wouldn't it be great if the effect on the church was that people began top worry less about proving their own point?!

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Still hanging in there...


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Isaiah
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Is Mr Collins actually answering the question or getting a little "Hellish" in his attitude?

It's a big statement to call all creationists liars and misquoters. I take exception. I am a creationist who takes a serious interest in science and quoting all scientists fairly. I have never fibbed about it either.

If Mr Collins disagrees with the question itself, then perhaps he could say so more graciously. I had hoped we could all be such jolly good friends.

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"They can't expect us not to look them over now...now that we've got them exactly where they want us."
(Captain Kirk)


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The sceptical Atheist
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Isaiah,

Do you accept the universe is over 6,000 years old?

If you do, then do you think there is scientific evidence to back up the claim?

If you do, then you are misrepresenting science.

If you belive on faith that the Earth is 6,000 years old or don't try to use science to support the view then I have no problem. The soon you try and use science to support your claim I will be sent to hell or kicked off for crusading.

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"Faith in God and seventy-five cents will get you a cup of coffee."
[Wayne Aiken]


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John Collins
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quote:
Originally posted by Isaiah:
Is Mr Collins actually answering the question or getting a little "Hellish" in his attitude?

It's a big statement to call all creationists liars and misquoters. I take exception. I am a creationist who takes a serious interest in science and quoting all scientists fairly. I have never fibbed about it either.

If Mr Collins disagrees with the question itself, then perhaps he could say so more graciously. I had hoped we could all be such jolly good friends.


What a load of nonsense! You quoted some creationists. I referred to them saying "These Creationists" and commented that they were liars and misquoters, a view I am unrepentant about subscribing too. You have extrapolated that, put the words "all creationists are liars" into my mouth and taken offence at that.

I don't see how anyone can look at some of these Creationist web sites etc (for example "Answers in Genesis" and "Institute for Creation Research") without rapidly coming to the conclusion that Young-Earth Creationists turn lying and misquotation, not to mention extreme rudeness to people who disagree with them, including other Christians, into an art form.

If you subscribe to their views, I'm sorry for you, I'm sure you're sadly deceived, but it doesn't make you a liar or misquoter as such.

I see no reason why this discussion should not be a friendly one if people trouble to read posts properly and not over-react to things people didn't say.

--------------------
John Collins


Posts: 179 | From: Welwyn Garden City, Herts | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Glenn Oldham
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# 47

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Neil,

I will try to answer your question as you posed it.

quote:
Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
Much of the theology of last century was shaped by the ‘scientific’ Darwinian view of the origin of life. If Darwinism proves false, much of last century’s theology will be confined to the dustbin and a refined theology will emerge.

In light of this, I have this question to put to the Board.

If biologists show that life could not have just appeared by chance, if a theory develops requiring an intelligent agent behind the original of life, what will be the outcome for the church?


Not a lot would change at all.

Firstly even if it is (somehow!) established that certain biochemical systems or structures could not have evolved but must have been designed then the identity of the designer(s) becomes a question. Who or what designed these things?

Might an advanced lifeform of a very different sort from us have evolved elsewhere in the galaxy and designed these structures and systems and then seeded our planet with lifeforms that then evolved into us?

Let us suppose that Behe has a watertight argument against this too. Well then perhaps it was God, or a god (one of many poytheism is not ruled out) or some other form of life beyond our knowledge?

Suppose we assume it was the One God then what does all this tell us about him/her/it? Well we would have to do careful research to identify those structures and systems to make sure we understand the possible mechanisms of evolution in order to be sure that we had an instance of design. All that would show us is that he/she/it intervened in some way at some time in the world to produce these structures. But in itself that would not tell us much about this being's motives (perhaps it is a cosmic sadist that wanted to produce life to torment it).

Other theologians might regard 'God's' inability to design a universe that was able to evolve such structures as Behe talks of as not being up to much!

There would, in short be as much controversy as there is now because even if Behe's argument is correct it still leaves much about God in darkness.

Nor would it prove anything about the status of the Bible, either.

As a penultimate point, I think you overestimate Darwinism's centrality for theology about God's action in the world. The argument from design for Gods existence has had many challenges for a long time (from David Hume in the 18th century for example). Similarly issues such as the problem of Evil, questions of free will and determinism, morality, all play a major part in conceptualising whether or not and how God acts in the universe and have been around a heck of a lot longer than Darwinism. These issues have shaped theology too.

Finally I must say that Behe's arguments are not convincing and have been well answered (for a very good reply see Tower of Babel: the case against the new creationism by the quaker Robert T. Pennock (MIT Press) much the best book around on this area.

Glenn

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This entire doctrine is worthless except as a subject of dispute. (G. C. Lichtenberg 1742-1799 Aphorism 60 in notebook J of The Waste Books)


Posts: 910 | From: London, England | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Isaiah
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# 647

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Thank you for your clarification, Mr Collins. I apologise for my misunderstanding.

As for Mr Atheist, how can I debate with someone who has already given the final word? I cannot present any evidence for a young earth - even by a non-Christian - without being unscientific. So what's a guy to do?

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"They can't expect us not to look them over now...now that we've got them exactly where they want us."
(Captain Kirk)


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The sceptical Atheist
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# 379

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I apologise. You are right, I should be open minded. If you have any evidence for a young earth then I will listen.

If it is a PRATT of an idea (Pointed refuted a thousand times) then forgive me if I am not convinced.

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"Faith in God and seventy-five cents will get you a cup of coffee."
[Wayne Aiken]


Posts: 293 | From: Staffordshire | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Reepicheep
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# 60

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No more acronyms!!!!!!!!!

please!!!!

Love
Angel


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John Collins
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# 41

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I'd like to join Sceptical Atheist in hearing the evidence for a Young Earth - likewise if it's/they're not PRATTs.

Perhaps while you do this you could explain why you think it is necessary to believe it?

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John Collins


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Wulfstan
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# 558

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Apologies if I've seemed dismissive but I was trying to look at the question from something other than a Creationist perspective and as such it seemed a little baffling. I did say that Darwinism did pose a problem to Creationists but I wasn't sure if this was what Neil was initially referring to. If this thread was ultimately about creationism could this not have been made clear from the start? It might have saved a bit of confusion.
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Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

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In Neils opening post he refered to
quote:
the unfolding ‘battle of the sciences’ between biologists on both side of the philosophical divide…philosophical atheists Dawkins/Gould et al on one side and philosophical theists Behe/Schroeder et al on the other?

Just to add confusion to the situation, you might be interested in "The Darwin Wars" by Andrew Brown (ISBN 0-684-85145-8) which details the sometimes very bitter disputes between "Dawkensians" and "Gouldians" about different aspects of neo-Darwinianism. Both camps agree with the broad picture of neo-Darwinianism; evolution of organism by selection of genetic variants.

The views of Behe et al are very contentious, and make some very big assumptions. There has yet to be a single irrefutable example of a biochemical pathway which could not possibly have developed gradually from pre-existing pathways. Without such evidence these views are scientifically very weak.

As such I find the views of "Design Theorists" (see for example the Origins website) scientifically weak. I hve several other reservations about this idea which I have outlined on this page of my website.

Alan

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All I want for Christmas is EU


Posts: 32183 | From: East Kilbride (Scotland) or 福島 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Neil Robbie
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# 652

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Much of this thread has reinforced the conclusion I was already being drawn to having read Dawkins, Behe and co. That is that scientific support for a materialist, purposeless universe on one hand or a universe as the product of an intelligent agent on the other hand is beyond the current investigative capabilities of human intelligence. A simple 'we don't know' neatly summarises the current results of scientific investigation to the origin of life.

So, back to my original question. Darwinian philosophy (as distinct from Darwinian theory) has affected or infected almost every aspect of our theology over the last century. Such a dominant worldview could not have failed to seep into every nook and cranny of the church's life.

Wulfstan's observation that 'Dawrinism gave the church an enormous kick up the backside' is apparent and indeed the emergence of Darwinism has had many beneficial spin-offs for the church. However, his later argument that 'unless you are a creationist, Darwinism should never have bothered you that much in the first place' IMHO is like saying that when you spill the contents of an oil tanker in the sea off Alaska, it only affects the water quality. What about the oil that seeps into the sand, kills the fish, gets into the throats of otters, strips the natural oils of the feathers of birds and depletes microorganisms in the sea?

Darwinian philosophy is to Christian theology what oil slicks are to the environment. 'Liberalism' is the most obvious by-product of a theology polluted by Darwinism. What about the Conservatives, Fundamentalists, Catholics (Roman and Anglican), Charismatics and Pentecostals? Are we not all affected too? Should we not all go back over what we have come to believe is true and check if Darwinian theory (a purposeless, material, Godless universe) got its foot in the door of our theology? Let's check our feathers and clean off the unwanted oil which seeped into our understanding. Be purified, perhaps in the way God intended when Darwinian theory first emerged.

I was asked this question recently by a Christian minister: 'when did sin enter the world if man 'evolved' step-by-step?'

Taking the step-by-step 'evolution' of man, it is impossible to apply a date to the start of human rebellion against God. It is equally difficult to identify a biological, physiological or philosophical mechanism by which humans turned from God to reliance on our own abilities if change was minutely gradual. But the question assumes a prior commitment to the assumption that humans developed step-by-step from some other living organism. This is the sort of example of the pollution of theology by Darwinian philosophy I am referring to. There must be more subtle, clever affects from this worldview on our understanding of God.

I hope this clarifies my question. Can we think outside the box and see what else is suffering from this prior commitment to Darwinian philosophy?

Neil


Posts: 228 | From: Wolverhampton | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Timothy the Obscure

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# 292

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Darwin, of course, did not invent the idea of evolution--he simply came up with the most plausible explanation yet for how it happened. Nor do I think evolution created any new problems for theology--though it did give the Deists and other skeptics a bit more ammunition (Copernicus had already given them a fair amount). In truth, science is only a problem for those Christians who believe that if the Bible is not literally, historically, scientifically accurate, the whole spiritual message comes crashing down. This brings to mind C.S. Lewis's comment about skeptics who don't believe in Heaven because the description in Revelation is a bit over the top: "If they're going to be take that attitude, they shouldn't be reading books that are written for grownups" (misquoted from memory).

Who needs a date for the Fall? As someone once said, history is what happened one time, myth is what happens all the time. The world is always falling and always being redeemed. And yes, in a historical sense (according to the flesh, as Paul might say)there was the historical fact of the resurrection; but in a more important sense, Christ is always being crucified and resurrected in us (I don't mean this in a trivial symbolic sense, either).

Evolution (Darwinian or otherwise) has never been a problem for sound theology, and if it turns out that there is some other scientific explanation for the development of modern organisms over the course of the history of the Earth, that won't be a problem either.

Regards,

Timothy

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When you think of the long and gloomy history of man, you will find more hideous crimes have been committed in the name of obedience than have ever been committed in the name of rebellion.
  - C. P. Snow


Posts: 6105 | From: PDX | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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Thought the battle-axe would be needed here, but actually have little to add to what the good Mr Cresswell has said.

Except that some of Behe's 'irrecducible complexity' examples are refuted by Kenneth Miller (Finding Darwnin's God) which also makes an excellent read on scientific and philosophical levels.

Really, ID is just the old God of the Gaps married to the Argument from Design, the first of which is philosophically dangerous, and the latter long ago refuted.

I subscribe to Gould's approach of Non-overlapping magesteria.

--------------------
Might as well ask the bloody cat.


Posts: 17698 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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Oh - and Isaiah - feel free to present any young earth evidence. Best run it through Talk Origins first to make sure it isn't a PRATT.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

Posts: 17698 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
caty
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# 85

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quote:
In truth, science is only a problem for those Christians who believe that if the Bible is not literally, historically, scientifically accurate, the whole spiritual message comes crashing down.

THe problem is, people really believe this.
I had a LONG debate last night with my fundie flatmate (chick tracts left around the living room, that kind of thing...!)

And in the end, it came down to "If the first three chapters of Genesis can't be relied on, then none of the bible can be relied on". I was clearly on very dangerous ground suggesting otherwise.

HOW ON EARTH do you convince someone that you can be a bit more open minded about Genesis without being a "raving liberal"??? Particularly if that person doesn't have a scientific background and is suspicious of science?

(I'm sure she's off now to pray that the Lord will reveal to me the error of my humanistic thinking. Particularly as I also informed her that I didn't think the Catholic church was the Anti-Christ... Aaaaarrrrgh )

Any thoughts????
Yours, gradually calming down,
caty


Posts: 115 | From: yorkshire | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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You have little chance.

You can visit Talk Origins (link above) and my site for a lot of material that shows that the science is bollocks, but that won't get round the philosphical problems.

(Actually, the Chick Tract Big Daddy is a hoot - at least one major scientific misunderstanding or misrepresentation per frame)

There is no logical link between 'Genesis 1 is literally true' and 'the Gospel of Luke is a historically reliable account', but folk make it.

My feeling is that if the belief that Jesus is alive needs bolstering with the idea that every word in the collection of books surrounding the subject is literally true, then the whole construct should fall.

Jesus was raised from death because He is alive now in His church and people, not because some old text says He is.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.


Posts: 17698 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

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An alternative approach could be to point out the size of the membership of an organisation such as Christians in Science (currently in excess of 600) which has a declaration of belief (signed by all members) including
quote:
I declare my belief in the triune God as creator and sustainer of the universe, and my faith in Jesus as Saviour, Lord of all and God.

and
I acknowledge the Bible as the Word of God and its final
authority in matters of faith and conduct.



It does beg the question that since the vast majority (if not all) CiS members do not accept the hyper-literal reading of Gen.1 how do they honestly sign the declaration, especially with the second clause I quoted.

The answer of course is that the young earth creation position is a modern invention (ie: basically post-war, initially proposed by Seventh Day Adventists to support their claim that the 7th day, Saturday, should be the day of worship rather than Sunday) that creates more theological and doctrinal problems than it purports to solve, and treats Scripture with a great deal of disrespect by elevating a superficial "plain reading" to a point where it teaches something the original authors (and I include God as one of those authors) didn't consider to the neglect of what those authors wanted to say.

Alan

[fixed UBB code]

[ 02 July 2001: Message edited by: Alan Cresswell ]

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All I want for Christmas is EU


Posts: 32183 | From: East Kilbride (Scotland) or 福島 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
caty
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# 85

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Alan, did try that one...

She didn't even accept that my position was mainstream Christianity! (the early church would have taken it literally, so Augustine & co were clearly wrong. After all, they were catholics too, so obviously beyond the pale.)

The only bit of my argument that seemed to get through was when I asked her to "suspend belief" and imagine that she was shown totally convincing evidence for evolution. Would she reject the whole of the bible, or reinterpret the Genesis account?

She agreed that she would have to re-interpret it (RESULT!!!) but couldn't imagine that there would ever be convincing proof.

I did then try to explain that I thought the evidence *was* convincing, but she obviously didn't buy it.

What frightened me was that she perceived any questioning as a threat: ie, you've got to be so wary of "clever" ideas because they're subtle traps of Satan.
The idea of engaging with secular ideas from a christian perspective was totally alien to her.

I've never thought of myself as a Liberal before...!
caty


Posts: 115 | From: yorkshire | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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Try finding out which of the two creation accounts she actually believes literally...

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

Posts: 17698 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
caty
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# 85

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Both
Posts: 115 | From: yorkshire | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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So God created all the fish and birds, then the animals and mankind (both genders), then...erm....created the man, then the animals and then the woman.

It really sounds like two accounts to me.

Whilst she's at it, if the Bible is literal, who caused David to take a census of Israel?

quote:
2 Samuel 24

1 Again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, "Go and take a census of Israel and Judah".


Or

quote:
1 Chronicles 21

1 Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.


There are lots of problems for literalists.

Your problem is for her to understand how the Bible is not literally true in every word without damaging her faith, which is, in the end, more important.

[UBB fixed]

[ 02 July 2001: Message edited by: Alan Cresswell ]

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.


Posts: 17698 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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And of course, if some nice purg host peeps could fix my UBB code from attempting to use HTML....



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Might as well ask the bloody cat.


Posts: 17698 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Glenn Oldham
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# 47

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Neil, you said:
quote:
So, back to my original question. Darwinian philosophy (as distinct from Darwinian theory) has affected or infected almost every aspect of our theology over the last century. Such a dominant worldview could not have failed to seep into every nook and cranny of the church's life.
[...]
Darwinian philosophy is to Christian theology what oil slicks are to the environment. 'Liberalism' is the most obvious by-product of a theology polluted by Darwinism. ... Should we not all go back over what we have come to believe is true and check if Darwinian theory (a purposeless, material, Godless universe) got its foot in the door of our theology?

Can we think outside the box and see what else is suffering from this prior commitment to Darwinian philosophy?


You are right to distinguish the theory from the philosophy (though you confusingly refer to Darwinian theory as meaning that the universe is ultimately 'a purposeless, material, Godless universe' which is a mistaken inference. I assume you meant 'philosophy' not 'theory').

Science seeks to understand how the universe works and is necessarily non-theistic (not atheistic) in its methodology. It looks for the natural laws and patterns present in the world. It does not invoke God in its explanations because if it did so science would either grind to a halt or else it would have to investigate things further anyway to make sure there was not a natural rather than supernatural explanation after all. But to mistake a non-theistic methodology for a claim that the world really is without a God is a mistake. Some evolutionists do claim this but not all.

Those of us who accept the broad outline of evolutionary theory would not see it as polluting theology. Not all philosophies arising from Darwinism are atheistic.

You say 'Such a dominant worldview could not have failed to seep into every nook and cranny of the church's life.' This is an enormous claim which i find unbelievable. Where in the theology or life of christianity does 'a purposeless, material, Godless universe' figure so pervasively? You mention liberalism but the vast majority of liberal Christians do not believe in 'a purposeless, material, Godless universe.'

Do you have any other examples?

Glenn

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This entire doctrine is worthless except as a subject of dispute. (G. C. Lichtenberg 1742-1799 Aphorism 60 in notebook J of The Waste Books)


Posts: 910 | From: London, England | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Astro
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# 84

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Reading an article by Dawkins about the recent Darwinism conference, by the time I got half way through the thought that was in my mind was "This is fundamentalism". Yes it seemed that the fundie label should not just be thrown at religious people but the likes of Dawkins is getting close to being an evolutionary fundie.

I later read an article in the Guardian (a liberal british daily newspaper) which objected to the theories being put up at the Dawinist conference, and although they did not use the fundie label their objections seemed similar to mine.

I am not writing this to support 7 day creationism, but rather to wonder where the debate is going. To mind mind it is heading towards somewhere like the end of Animal Farm
They looked at the Bible fundamentalists and the Darwin fundamentalists and could not tell the difference between them

Astro

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if you look around the world today – whether you're an atheist or a believer – and think that the greatest problem facing us is other people's theologies, you are yourself part of the problem. - Andrew Brown (The Guardian)


Posts: 2723 | From: Chiltern Hills | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Gill
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# 102

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Caty - they still do Chick Tracts? Wow! NOW I feel old! lol
Seriously, as for your flatmate, I would summon up a prophetic glint in my eye (well it'd appear, I'm afraid) and ask her what issue she is trying to avoid by concentrating on an unprovable red herring. Undoubtedly there will be one, though she may not know that herself yet. Reason won't work - I know that, cos I used to believe exactly the same and drive MY flatmates to distraction!

Liberalism ain't Godless. I seem to be moving towards some ever more liberal point at the momnet, and i can honestly say that letting go of my evangelicalism has been the most profoundly Christian experience I've had in 26 years of belief. Cos it's frightening, unknown, and therefore uncontrollable (he's not a TAME lion). I have to trust god that H'ell get me through this and either out the other end or into the Place Where He Wants me.

But Godless? I have never been as free to love others as i am now I have lost so many of my old prejudices (which really all sprang from fear of taint by association).

Don't knock it till you've tried it!

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Still hanging in there...


Posts: 1828 | From: not drowning but waving... | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Gill
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# 102

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Sorry about the typos - read capital 'G' for God and He'll for Hell!

Couldn't we use Abram's journey as a paradigm here?

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Still hanging in there...


Posts: 1828 | From: not drowning but waving... | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
doug
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# 474

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Hi all,

as a proto biologist ( ie an undergrad at the same unoversity that dawkins is based at, im going to take an evolution course next year, and from what i've heard, dawkins makes rather a small appearance. he's not the only or most influential "evolutionist" ( why does that word always set alarm bells ringing in my head ). Just because he's very vocal in his atheism doesn't mean that just because he uses darwinian philosophies (rather than darwinian theory) to justify his atheism, doesn't mean he's wrong about the biology of the process (although that is a whole other kettle of fish...)

while dawkins accuses believers of using a "skyhook" like God to support our worldview, he simaltaneously invokes the skyhook of free will to support his ( or so it seems to me.

a really interesting essay by Theodosius Dobzhansky ( influential evolutionary theorist and devout christian ) is here

i think i might chuck in a few quotes because, quite frankly, he's a lot more eloquent than me

young earth ?

quote:
One can suppose that the Creator saw fit to play deceitful tricks on geologists and biologists. He carefully arranged to have various rocks provided with isotope ratios just right to mislead us into thinking that certain rocks are 2 billion years old, others 2 million, which in fact they are only some 6,000 years old. This kind of pseudo-explanation is not very new. One of the early antievolutionists, P. H. Gosse, published a book entitled Omphalos ("the Navel"). The gist of this amazing book is that Adam, though he had no mother, was created with a navel, and that fossils were placed by the Creator where we find them now ? a deliberate act on His part, to give the appearance of great antiquity and geologic upheaveals. It is easy to see the fatal flaw in all such notions. They are blasphemies, accusing God of absurd deceitfulness. This is as revolting as it is uncalled for.

quote:
organic diversity becomes, however, reasonable and understandable if the Creator has created the living world not by caprice but by evolution propelled by natural selection. It is wrong to hold creation and evolution as mutually exclusive alternatives. I am a creationist and an evolutionist. Evolution is God?s, or Nature?s method of creation. Creation is not an event that happened in 4004 BC; it is a process that began some 10 billion years ago and is still under way.

apologies for the huge amounts of quotation, but its a long essay with lots of good bits.

yours,

doug


Posts: 28 | From: Oxford | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Isaiah
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# 647

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May I clarify. My initial post merely contrasted the dogmatic evolution-is-unquestionable statements made by some writers in this thread with the evolution-is-highly-questionable statements of some modern non-Christian scientists. It seems that, because I was prepared to question evolution, it was presumed that I would want to scientifically defend a young earth - a proposition which I was told would not be tolerated. I then pointed out that there was no point presenting any evidence under those circumstances. Then, happily, some of "the board" were ready to consider any evidence for a young earth more openly.

As it is, most of the debates are available on the web, and I don't need to fill up this thread copying and pasting them in here. All existing pro-young-earth arguments are already "PRATT" to my objectors, and I don't have any novel new theory of my own to present.

Dogmatic evolutionists who have considered all contradicting evidence as "PRATT" need to recognise that their theory is not conclusive. In other words, the previously "PRATT" evidence is no longer so easily dismissed. I think that a fair evaluation of the scientific evidence in the age of the earth debate also shows that there are difficulties on both sides. Given time, I expect that "PRATT" labels will be thrown around less confidently in this area also.

This said, I believe that the very nature of our discussion here reflects the relevance of Mr Robbie's initial question. The fact we should all recognise is that our presuppositions do, of course, influence all our thinking, our theology, and even our scientific evaluation.

It is certainly demonstrable that Darwin did not so much devise the theory of evolution because of overwhelming evidence as he did devise the theory and then go looking for evidence. As we all know, he admitted that the lack of evidence was his biggest obstacle. Over the past 20-30 years the Neo-Darwinists have had to face a growing problem of the same nature. And, dare I say, I think the age of the earth issue will eventually come into the same arena.

If we presuppose a theory or belief about the origin of life, its development, or even the age of the earth, we will want to interpret the data to support our ideas and dismiss all other interpretations as "PRATT." We see these excesses in both the evolutionist and the creationist camps. There is no such thing as neutrality. There is no "pure objectivity" even in the laboratory. It is the myth of modern science that the "evidence speaks for itself." It is the presupposition that speaks through the evidence. And, as Cornielius Van Til demonstrated, this is unavoidable.

This, in my view, is why the special revelation of Scipture is primary and why general revelation, including the natural world which we explore through the sciences, is secondary. If we presuppose the authority of Scripture, then we have a standard to refer to in our scientific pursuits. I am not saying that we ignore those problems in the laboratory that seem to contradict Scripture, but I am saying that we should always accept Scripture as the primary evidence. Our first step in science is exegetical. And even within this framework our human limitations and sinful bias will hinder our work. Nevertheless, I believe that when the Scriptures are properly exegeted and the natural data are correctly understood the two will be in harmony.

If we are to do justice to Mr Robbie's question, then I think we need to debate this area of presuppositionalism and epistemology.

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"They can't expect us not to look them over now...now that we've got them exactly where they want us."
(Captain Kirk)


Posts: 10 | From: Australia | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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Isaiah - speaking of presuppositions, perhaps some explanations are in order.

SA and I are both veterans of the web debates on this issue - I have recently 'resigned' as it were from debating on the OCW's debate board because of the pathetic insult based 'debating' technique of some of the YECs there, but also for another reason, and it's tied up with the acronym PRATT.

You will recall it stands (pace Pasco) for 'Point Refuted A Thousand Times', and the reason we coined it was that we were fed up with answering the same points, that have indeed been refuted many times, but which uninformed creationists still raise as objections to mainstream science.

Such might include:

* No transitional fossils
* Speed of light slowing down
* Speed of stalactite growth
* Mt St Helens creating mini 'Grand Canyon'
* Earth-Moon regression
* Second Law of Thermodynamics

for starters. For a complete list, my web site has a consideration of a particularly rich collection of PRATTs on this page.

It is not that we are saying that any Young Earth evidence is automatically a PRATT. What we are saying is don't bother using any PRATT evidence because it'll be pumped overboard with the rest of the bilge.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.


Posts: 17698 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged



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