Slippery Slopes are Not Defensible Positions

The following Tweet appeared in my Twitter feed. As one can see, the Tweet is not a response to a particular person. Rather it is a scourging of the topics discussed in a Tennessee Sunday School, as noted in the article posted. It is also obvious that the Tweet was meant for Janet Mefferd’s followers. My response was to the content of the Tweet and its implications for those who call Jesus “Lord”.

There were several responses to my reply, including, “Total capitulation. So sad professing Christians think they need to do this.” It was if I had succumbed to the world and had become a carnal Christian in accepting a scientific understanding of creation.

One woman had a most vehement disagreement with me regarding my use of science. She has since blocked me.

Her arguments against my positing evolutionary creation were not arguments at all. Rather, she quoted Scripture verses denouncing me as promoting false doctrine and 1 Cor. 1:27:

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

And in keeping with Mefferd, she also posted slippery slope warning diatribes denouncing evolutionary creation as the road to outer Darwinism.

This woman’s responses implied that since I held to a science-explained creation that I did not know Scripture and that I was not a Rock-solid Fundamentalist and therefore already on a slippery slope. She would only accept a literal 6-day (24 hour/day) creation reading of Genesis. Here is one of my responses to her:

To allay misunderstanding, I was not trying to win an argument when I posted my replies. I did state my position in my initial response. I did try to further discussion of the science versus Scripture and Faith issue that seems so prevalent in Christian circles. I did try to jump start a conversation about evolutionary creation. And, in so doing I implied that it is appropriate to discuss science in church. I also felt that I had to stand up for scientific study, as nature is God’s revelation to us along with Scripture.

But, the minds of those who replied were in lock-down mode. They would not hear of such a thing. They became defensive. And, that is the implication and force of Tweets like the above: to shut down any thinking that comes from outside the narrative and to reinforce the closely held narrative. I am reminded of Plato’s cave allegory (see below). The mind-shackled use the shadows – illusions- on a cave wall as their shared narrative.

As anyone can observe today, groups on both Right and Left have their hard-drive narratives and fire-walls set up against any knowledge that would corrupt their narrative. Offensively, ultraconservative Fundamentalists use dictatorial piety with a formatted Sola Scriptura narrative to counter-spam the ultraliberal dictatorial piety of Progressives and their formatted Sola Pretium Affectionis (Values) narratives. And, vice versa.

Both groups use virtue signaling in social media to reinforce their narrative to their followers and to ward off criticism of and debate about their narrative. Both groups use slippery slope scenarios to buttress their narratives against challenges. Both group’s narrative reinforcements are those whose personal version of God is one created in their own image. As such, both group’s absolutist narratives allow one to presume to know all there is about an issue. Both group’s narratives are for the simple-minded: the narratives make no demands of you; the narratives require no effort or thought; the narrative only requires that you repeat its words over and over. But, as someone also observed, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” (Chaucer, 1374).

 

You can go to a church week after week and have your narrative reinforced. Or, you can go to church and have your narrative brought out into the open and challenged. Jesus challenged hard-wired fire-wall protected absolutist dictatorial narratives. Disciples followed to hear more. Others walked away and back to their safe space narrative cave.

In the world where a Christian’s replies instantly equate my inquiry and debate to heresy and to precipitous slippery slope scenarios or to Fundamentalism, nothing is ventured and nothing is gained. Fear of the unknown is what is being defended against with such rebuffing Tweets directed at me from the narrative cave. The Gospel was NOT being defended or upheld for all to see with such dismissive Tweets directed at me from the narrative cave. And that’s because the Gospel is not cave-ridden. Those who embrace the Gospel walk in the light. But for some, tweeting from the safe space narrative cave about slippery slopes outside somewhere is all that matters.

 

The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge,

for the ears of the wise seek it out.

Proverbs 18:15

 

 As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another.

Proverbs 27:17

 

~~~

Some things to ponder:

Allegory of the Cave

 

“Despite the efforts of a few evangelical intellectuals like B. B. Warfield and James Orr, to work patiently through the mid-level science literature of the day, evangelicalism as a whole relied more on popular argumentation aimed at democratic audiences, rather than on discriminating advanced learning, to counter the anti -Christian uses of modern science.  Powerful social forces fueled this populist approach.”

-Mark Noll, Evangelicals, Creation, and Scripture: An Overview

“The fact that the human and chimpanzee genomes exhibit striking synteny with only subtle differences in genomic organization has been known for some time, based on chromosome staining and molecular hybridization techniques.The main differences between human and chimpanzee chromosome sets are nine intrachromosomal inversions and one chromosome fusion. These observations have now been confirmed at the molecular level by whole-genome sequencing of humans and chimpanzees.”

-Dennis R. Venema, Genesis and the Genome: Genomics Evidence for Human-Ape Common Ancestry and Ancestral Hominid Population Sizes

“Now we Reformed Christians are wholly in earnest about the Bible. We are people of the Word; Sola Scriptura is our cry; we take Scripture to be a special revelation from God himself, demanding our absolute trust and allegiance. But we are equally enthusiastic about reason, a God-given power by virtue of which we have knowledge of ourselves, our world, our past, logic and mathematics, right and wrong, and God himself; reason is one of the chief features of the image of God in us. And if we are enthusiastic about reason, we must also be enthusiastic about contemporary natural science, which is a powerful and vastly impressive manifestation of reason. So this is my question: given our Reformed proclivities and this apparent conflict, what are we to do? How shall we think about this matter?”

-Alvin Plantinga, When Faith and Reason Clash: Evolution and the Bible

“Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.” [1 Timothy 1.7]

-Saint Augustine (A.D. 354-430) in his work The Literal Meaning of Genesis (De Genesi ad litteram libri duodecim) (emphasis mine)

Darwin’s Myopia, Our Dilemma

Darwin’s Myopia, in excerpts: 

Darwin’s Myopia, in excerpts: “Once, Milton, Byron, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Shelly “gave me great pleasure” and “I took intense delight in Shakespeare.” -Charles Darwin ~~~ “In his old age Darwin admitted, “I have lost the power of becoming deeply attached to anyone.” He assured Tennyson that there was nothing in his theories to prevent anyone believing in a supreme being. But he did not think about God or the possibility of an afterlife. He closed his mind to speculation about the infinite and concentrated on worms. One is tempted to feel that he deliberately shut his eyes to the ultimate consequences of his work, in terms of the human condition and the purpose of life or the absence of one.” Paul Johnson (emphasis added) ~~~ “It is hard to believe that Darwin himself would have accepted this huge, bottomless emptiness of life. Or, rather, perhaps because he felt it yawning, he averted his eyes from the big issues and focused them on the small: climbing plants, orchids, insectivorous plants, worms. The truth is long before he died, he had lost control over his own theory. The point at which he lost control can be precisely identified. It was when he decided that natural selection, to be of internally coherent, has to be comprehensive and universal. But if this is so, then there is no essential difference between man and any other animal. The differences, however obvious and seemingly enormous, are of degree and not of kind.” Paul Johnson (emphasis added) ~~~ Enter the paradox, missed by Darwin: “It can more easily be grasped if we see natural selection as destructive as well as constructive-and not only destructive but self-destructive. Once natural selection had created man, it was in its own danger zone. Human beings think…are conscious, and self-conscious. It is at this stage in evolution that natural selection falters and ceases to work with all its previous triumphalism and certitude.” (emphasis added) ~~~ The above quotes are taken from Historian Paul Johnson’s insightful biography Darwin: portrait of a genius Copyright © 2015 From Johnson’s concise, detailed and deliberative biography we learn that Charles Darwin inherited genius stock-“a classic case of genetic inheritance”. We read of Darwin’s luminous and wealthy patriarchs-of his paternal and maternal grandfathers and of his father. We learn of Darwin’s moneyed care and education upbringing. Self-education would soon become a way of life for Darwin. Darwin married a godly wife, Emma Wedgwood, a “clever, educated, equable, hardworking, industrious, economical, and, not least, sensitive” woman. Together they had many children together. Darwin, a lover of botany and the author of On the Origin of the Species, we are told, never involved himself with the study of anthropology. He also never regarded math to any usable extent. Statistics were never his bailiwick. It is likely that Darwin never met up with and had never studied the Christian Monk Gregor Mendel’s foundational work, a well-read paper on genetics in 1866, a writing that would support natural selection and which also gave birth to the science of genetics. Darwin, during his Beagle voyage focused on botany, insects, flora and fauna in general and the facial expression of savages such as those of Tierra del Fuego. At home he read the local press, deeply concerned about how other people viewed everyone else, scientists in particular who differed from what he considered church dogma. Darwin’s s fear of being ostracized on earth with his published work coupled with his revulsion of any thought of eternal ostracization-punishment in hell forever-kept Darwin spiritually self-ostracized. He turned away from God and turned inward with a self-defensive mode of living. At one point Darwin, we read, became enthralled with Thomas Malthus’ theory of overpopulation, an unsubstantiated and later refuted theory that would become lifelong dogma for Darwin. At the same time Darwin also denied any Christian accounting of creation. “Ever since he became a systematic naturalist, Darwin had been an evolutionist. That is, he dismissed the account of Genesis of the separate creation of the species by Yahweh as symbolic and not to be taken literally. They had some way evolved. There was nothing new, surprising or alarming in this.” Others before him held similar views. See Chapter Three, “The Loss of God.” In the chapter titled “Evils of Social Darwinism” Paul Johnson postulates, and I agree with his assessment, that a hybrid of natural selection-Social Darwinism-has led to all manner of evil: “Those who studied progress were hugely attracted by Darwin’s notion of natural selection as a relentless self-driving machine, “daily and hourly scrutinizing, throughout the world, every variation…silently and insensibly working…at the improvement of each organic being…” Darwin’s words “Struggle” and “Survival” would later be found in the works and placards of atheists and agnostics and of German philosophers. The words would be used to secure featherbedding in the humanist realm of law as well as in sociology, psychology and psychiatry. Culture would make the leap of Social Darwinism. “Struggle” and “Survival” would be the seed words for the monstrous propagandized outgrowths of Fascists and of Socialists and of a Hitler and Marx and Engels and for the crushing rollout of Stalinist Communism. These same words were used to foment the works of Francis Galton and his sterilization eugenics program, a program practiced in many nations! Under such a program it would be decided by someone(s) who was “desirable” or “undesirable”. If a person was found “undesirable”, then that person was “unfit to procreate” and then sterilized. Soon, the same eugenics process would be used to decide which races were “unfit to live.” You can take the thread of thought from here. Today, Progressives want to define life: who is “fit to live” and who is “unfit to live” (e.g., abortion, death panels); who is to benefit (the 99%) and who isn’t to benefit (the 1%). Here’s a sample from an apparent Epicurean atheist: The website Slate, a website where myopia studies itself in the mirror; where intelligence and moral absolutes proudly go to be reprogrammed, has a review of Johnson’s book by Mark Joseph Stern. Incidentally, Slate provides its sycophantic readers with atheistic Progressive hubristic feel-good dispersions and mostly Turkish Delight. The article written by “red in tooth and claw” Mark Joseph Stern apparently hoped to incite a circle of atheistic humanist commentator wagons around the theory of evolution by using a well-known electric atheist prod-a rant that desperately wanted make the point that the “Bible is wrong”. Though mostly accepting of historian Johnson’s overview of Darwin’s life and work, Stern’s feathers are ruffled by Johnson interpolation of Darwin’s natural selection. He ends his piece with reassuring hubris: “But no thoughtful reader could possibly tolerate Johnson’s stunning intellectual dishonesty.” The article: “New Darwin Biography Is Horribly, Almost Comically Wrong” – “The latest effort to smear evolution by natural selection.” ~~ Well, think again Mark Joseph Stern. In fact read the book again. See that in no way does Paul Johnson dismiss or “smear” evolution or natural selection (you stated this in the subtitle of your article). At the end of the book, Johnson does extrapolate what he sees as the natural and ideological outcomes of the humanist “survival of the fittest” thinking tied to Darwin’s natural selection theory and apart from a God-consciousness. As can be seen by reading Slate and other ideological publications, Social Darwinism is now an applied theory that will abide no reference to mankind as created by God. Social Darwinism must abide with “the will to power”. Slate readers, I fear, would hate the correlation between God and man as much as they do their own shadows (Paul Johnson’s book) cast on cave walls. Our Dilemma: Do we take to heart and flesh the words of Slate and the Progressives and let Social Darwinism and materialism define our lives? Do we, in the same vein, live like animals and subvert reason while claiming “science made me do it” and continue to make “unnatural selections (e.g., homosexuality)? Or, do we return to our Creator? I commend Paul Johnson’s book to you. Read it and discern for yourself. I believe in God as a theistic evolutionist. ~~~ Other Christians who think like I do regarding Creation: “Even before Darwin published The Origin of Species in 1859, many Christians had already accepted an old Earth. One of the first supporters of evolutionary science in America—Harvard biologist Asa Gray—was a devout Christian. Conservative theologian B. B. Warfield also accepted the science of evolution, and both he and Asa Gray rejected the idea that evolution leads to atheism. Even the authors of The Fundamentals, published between 1910 and 1915, accepted an old earth. It wasn’t until a century after Darwin that a large number of evangelicals and fundamentalists began to accept the combination of flood geology and 6-day creation promoted by Seventh-day Adventists.” -How have Christians responded to Darwin’s “Origin of Species”? (emphasis added) Copyright © 2015 The BioLogos Foundation “Given the stark difference between evolution and six-day creation, many people assume that Darwin’s theory shook the foundations of the Christian faith. In truth, the literal six-day interpretation of Genesis 1-2 was not the only perspective held by Christians prior to modern science. St. Augustine (354-430), John Calvin (1509-1564), John Wesley (1703-1791), and others supported the idea of Accommodation. In the Accommodation view, Genesis 1-2 was written in a simple allegorical fashion to make it easy for people of that time to understand. In fact, Augustine suggested that the 6 days of Genesis 1 describe a single day of creation. St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) argued that God did not create things in their final state, but created them to have potential to develop as he intended. The views of these and other Christian leaders are consistent with God creating life by means of evolution.” -How was the Genesis account of creation interpreted before Darwin? (emphasis added) Copyright © 2015 The BioLogos Foundation https://youtu.be/niCgFJB2SGU

“Once, Milton, Byron, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Shelly “gave me great pleasure” and “I took intense delight in Shakespeare.” -Charles Darwin

~~~

“In his old age Darwin admitted, “I have lost the power of becoming deeply attached to anyone.” He assured Tennyson that there was nothing in his theories to prevent anyone believing in a supreme being. But he did not think about God or the possibility of an afterlife. He closed his mind to speculation about the infinite and concentrated on worms. One is tempted to feel that he deliberately shut his eyes to the ultimate consequences of his work, in terms of the human condition and the purpose of life or the absence of one.” Paul Johnson (emphasis added)

~~~

“It is hard to believe that Darwin himself would have accepted this huge, bottomless emptiness of life. Or, rather, perhaps because he felt it yawning, he averted his eyes from the big issues and focused them on the small: climbing plants, orchids, insectivorous plants, worms. The truth is long before he died, he had lost control over his own theory. The point at which he lost control can be precisely identified. It was when he decided that natural selection, to be of internally coherent, has to be comprehensive and universal. But if this is so, then there is no essential difference between man and any other animal. The differences, however obvious and seemingly enormous, are of degree and not of kind.”

Paul Johnson (emphasis added)

~~~

Enter the paradox, missed by Darwin: “It can more easily be grasped if we see natural selection as destructive as well as constructive-and not only destructive but self-destructive. Once natural selection had created man, it was in its own danger zone. Human beings think…are conscious, and self-conscious.

It is at this stage in evolution that natural selection falters and ceases to work with all its previous triumphalism and certitude.” (emphasis added)

~~~

The above quotes are taken from Historian Paul Johnson’s insightful biography Darwin: portrait of a genius   Copyright © 2015

Darwin Portrait of a Genius

From Johnson’s concise, detailed and deliberative biography we learn that Charles Darwin inherited genius stock-“a classic case of genetic inheritance”. We read of Darwin’s luminous and wealthy patriarchs-of his paternal and maternal grandfathers and of his father. We learn of Darwin’s moneyed care and education upbringing. Self-education would soon become a way of life for Darwin.

Darwin married a godly wife, Emma Wedgwood, a “clever, educated, equable, hardworking, industrious, economical, and, not least, sensitive” woman. Together they had many children together.

Darwin, a lover of botany and the author of On the Origin of the Species, we are told, never involved himself with the study of anthropology. He also never regarded math to any usable extent. Statistics were never his bailiwick.

It is likely that Darwin never met up with and had never studied the Christian Monk Gregor Mendel’s foundational work, a well-read paper on genetics in 1866 and a writing that would support natural selection. Mendel’s pea hybrid work would give birth to the science of genetics.

Darwin, during his Beagle voyage focused on botany, insects, flora and fauna in general and the facial expression of savages such as those of Tierra del Fuego. At home he read the local press. He was deeply concerned about how other people viewed everyone else, scientists in particular, who differed from what he considered church dogma..

Darwin’s s fear of being ostracized on earth with his published work coupled with his revulsion of any thought of eternal ostracization-punishment in hell forever-kept Darwin spiritually self-ostracized from the Creator. He turned away from God and turned inward with a self-defensive mode of living.

At one point Darwin, we read, became enthralled with Thomas Malthus’ theory of overpopulation, an unsubstantiated and later refuted theory. Malthus’ theory would become lifelong dogma for Darwin. At the same time Darwin also denied any Christian accounting of creation.

“Ever since he became a systematic naturalist, Darwin had been an evolutionist. That is, he dismissed the account of Genesis of the separate creation of the species by Yahweh as symbolic and not to be taken literally. They had some way evolved. There was nothing new, surprising or alarming in this.” Others before him held similar views. See Chapter Three, “The Loss of God.”

In the chapter titled “Evils of Social Darwinism” Paul Johnson postulates, and I agree with his assessment, that a hybrid of natural selection-Social Darwinism-has led to all manner of evil: “Those who studied progress were hugely attracted by Darwin’s notion of natural selection as a relentless self-driving machine, “daily and hourly scrutinizing, throughout the world, every variation…silently and insensibly working…at the improvement of each organic being…” Darwin’s words “Struggle” and “Survival” would later be found in the works and placards of atheists and agnostics and of German philosophers. The words would be used to secure featherbedding in the humanist realm of law as well as in sociology, psychology and psychiatry. Culture would make the leap of Social Darwinism.

“Struggle” and “Survival” would be the seed words for the monstrous propagandized outgrowths of Fascists and of Socialists and of a Hitler and Marx and Engels and for the crushing rollout of Stalinist Communism.

These same words were used to foment the works of Francis Galton and his sterilization eugenics program, a program practiced in many nations!

Under such a program it would be decided by someone(s) who was “desirable” or “undesirable”. If a person was found “undesirable”, then that person was “unfit to procreate” and then sterilized. Soon, the same eugenics process would be used to decide which races were “unfit to live.” You can take the thread of thought from here.

Today, Progressives want to define life: who is “fit to live” and who is “unfit to live” (e.g., abortion, death panels); who is to benefit and who isn’t to benefit (class and race warfare). Here’s a sample of the Progressive’s rejection of anything that might rattle their cages, written by an apparent Epicurean atheist:

The website Slate, a website where myopia studies itself in the mirror; where intelligence and moral absolutes proudly go to be reprogrammed into “who’s the bigger hypocrite” moral relativism, has a review of Johnson’s book by Mark Joseph Stern.

Incidentally, Slate provides its sycophantic readers with atheistic Progressive hubristic feel-good dispersions and mostly Turkish Delight.

The article written by “red in tooth and claw” Mark Joseph Stern apparently hoped to incite a circle of atheistic humanist commentator wagons around the theory of evolution by using a well-known electric atheist prod-a rant that desperately wanted make the point that the “Bible is wrong”.

Stern wanted to protect the atheist’s raison d’etre-a material world without moral agency (read accountability) and certainly one without Absolutes. A Darwinian Social scientism in lieu of God is more to their liking, more controllable and less scary.

Though mostly accepting of historian Johnson’s overview of Darwin’s life and work, Stern’s feathers are ruffled by Johnson’s interpolation of Darwin’s natural selection. He ends his piece with reassuring hubris:   “But no thoughtful reader could possibly tolerate Johnson’s stunning intellectual dishonesty.” The article:

“New Darwin Biography Is Horribly, Almost Comically Wrong” – “The latest effort to smear evolution by natural selection.”

~~

Well, think again Mark Joseph Stern. In fact read the book again. See that in no way does Paul Johnson dismiss or “smear” evolution or natural selection (you stated this in the subtitle of your article).

At the end of the book, Johnson does extrapolate what he sees as the ideological outcomes (Social Darwinism, humanism, nihilism, eugenics, etc.) of Darwin’s natural selection theory, a theory deliberately configured apart from God-consciousness as it was detached from Mendel’s foundational statistics experiments over time. (By way of information, before Darwin someone else would coin the phrase “survival of the fittest”.)

As can be seen by reading Slate and other smug ideological publications, Social Darwinism is now an applied theory that will abide no reference to mankind as created by God. Instead, Social Darwinism must abide with “the will to power”. Slate readers, I fear, would hate the correlation between God and man as much as they do their own shadows (i.e., Paul Johnson’s revelatory deductions) cast on cave walls.

Our Dilemma:

Do we take to heart and flesh the words of Slate and the Progressives and let Social Darwinism and materialism define our lives? Do we, in the same vein, live like animals and subvert reason while claiming “science made me do it” and continue to make “unnatural selections (e.g., homosexuality, abortion)?

Or, do we return to our Creator?

I commend Paul Johnson’s book to you. Read it and discern for yourself.

I believe in God as a theistic evolutionist.

~~~

Other Christians who think like I do regarding Creation:

Even before Darwin published The Origin of Species in 1859, many Christians had already accepted an old Earth. One of the first supporters of evolutionary science in America—Harvard biologist Asa Gray—was a devout Christian. Conservative theologian B. B. Warfield also accepted the science of evolution, and both he and Asa Gray rejected the idea that evolution leads to atheism. Even the authors of The Fundamentals, published between 1910 and 1915, accepted an old earth. It wasn’t until a century after Darwin that a large number of evangelicals and fundamentalists began to accept the combination of flood geology and 6-day creation promoted by Seventh-day Adventists.”How have Christians responded to Darwin’s “Origin of Species”? (emphasis added) Copyright © 2015 The BioLogos Foundation

 

Given the stark difference between evolution and six-day creation, many people assume that Darwin’s theory shook the foundations of the Christian faith. In truth, the literal six-day interpretation of Genesis 1-2 was not the only perspective held by Christians prior to modern science. St. Augustine (354-430), John Calvin (1509-1564), John Wesley (1703-1791), and others supported the idea of Accommodation. In the Accommodation view, Genesis 1-2 was written in a simple allegorical fashion to make it easy for people of that time to understand. In fact, Augustine suggested that the 6 days of Genesis 1 describe a single day of creation. St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) argued that God did not create things in their final state, but created them to have potential to develop as he intended. The views of these and other Christian leaders are consistent with God creating life by means of evolution.”How was the Genesis account of creation interpreted before Darwin? (emphasis added) Copyright © 2015 The BioLogos Foundation

One Nation Under Epicurus?

Previous posts have exposed the false either/or thinking of Epicurean philosophy and its now universally subverting High-Horse Mal-ware, a mal-ware that bifurcates mankind’s worldview.

At ‘ground level’ there is science, scientism, facts and secularism. In the attic are God, religion, values and meaning. Richard Dawkins and other angry atheists such as the former Christopher Hitchens, both keenly Epicurean, would opine “There’s probably is no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy life. Here is your ground game:  avoid pain, seek pleasure and BTW there is evil in the world therefore God must be AWOL.”

The "Great Divorce" bus? vide C.S. Lewis

The “Great Divorce” bus? vide C.S. Lewis

The Epicurus “High-Horse” Mal-ware landed on the shores of the New World ready to create a new saeculum- a new age. Thomas Jefferson declared himself to be Epicurean. Look at your dollar bill: ANNUIT CŒPTIS NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM=“Initiate the new world order”. The new world order of America was to become the Enlightenment’s gift to the world-Governor John Winthrop’s “city upon a hill” (1630).

Mankind in this New-Age-New-World, already exposed to “High-Horse” mal-ware, was thought by many to be made of random atoms which materially evolved without any help from above. Ergo, mankind would just as ‘freely’ determine its fate via scientism using a co-opted and modified European/Westphalian system of order (17th century) while keeping God at attic’s length. The pilgrims did inject a belief in an Epicurus defined fear-mongering God but their distant “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” Deist God would later only be mentioned at funerals and never mentioned on resumes. (I realize that I am summing up at lot in a short post.)

Now that you have heard about the Epicurus “High-Horse” Mal-ware you will begin to see its effects in every day life. For instance…

Recently Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a potential 2016 POTUS candidate, was asked if he believed in evolution.

 “Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a potential U.S. presidential candidate, on Wednesday declined to say whether he believed that humans evolved from other life forms, a theory widely supported by scientists but rejected by many American voters.

 “That’s a question a politician shouldn’t be involved in one way or the other,” Walker said during a question-and-answer session at Chatham House, a London think tank…

 …When asked by the moderator whether he accepted the theory of evolution, Walker also declined to answer.

 “I’m here to talk about trade, not to pontificate,” he said. “I love the evolution of trade in Wisconsin.”

 Scientists widely agree that humans have evolved from other life forms over the course of millions of years, as English naturalist Charles Darwin first proposed in 1859.

 But the theory of evolution is rejected by many evangelical Christians, who view it as conflicting with the Bible’s story that the universe was created in seven days.

 More than four in 10 Americans reject evolutionary theory and believe that God created humans in their present form, according to a Gallup opinion poll conducted last June. Creationism runs strongest among older, more religious and less educated voters, the survey found”

Wow! “less educated voters”!! Talk about pompous “High-Horse” Mal-ware social manipulating scripting!

The intent of this line of questioning reported here and by other high-horse trolls was to expose Walker as intellectually weak: “Are you a “down-to-earth rational being who believes in science and evolution or are you another one of those silly Christians who believes in Creationism created by an AWOL god?”

The interviewer was hoping Walker would click on the “High-Horse” mal-ware message, make a fool of himself with a reply and then get spammed by the media. The question (Obviously I can’t read the interviewer’s mind but the question itself in this context was meant, I believe, to divide ‘rational’ believers in Darwinian evolution and materialism from the silly ‘superficial’ believers in a Creationist God.) The intent also, as I see it, was meant to contrast those who consider themselves really really smart, proud of their belief in scientism, Epicurean in their default cynicism against those who (in the interviewer’s mind) hold ‘silly’ religious “God is not dead” views. And, this question was posed to divide Walker’s base constituency of Christians. There are those who still hold to a young earth literalist Creation and there are those who have moved on with science and accept theistic evolution. These latter Christians accept that the first two chapters of Genesis are poetic in nature and are not to be interpreted as literal. These latter Christians also accept that these two chapters most definitely give us God’s perspective on mankind’s origin and purpose–Humanities 101.

Here’s another similar post ‘taken over’ by “High-Horse” mal-ware:

 

“Scott Walker Humiliates Himself On The World Stage By Dodging A Question About Evolution”

Walker was asked if he was comfortable with, and believed in evolution. It was a simple question that made the Wisconsin governor look like a fool, “For me, I’m going to punt on that one as well. That’s question a politician shouldn’t be involved in.”

Moderator Justin Webb of BBC Radio4 took Walker to task, “That is a question any British politician right or left wing would laugh and say, “Of course, evolution’s true.”

Gov. Walker replied by digging himself in deeper, “To me, I’m here to talk about trade, not to pontificate about other issues. I love the evolution of trade in Wisconsin. It’s going really well, and I’d like to see it even bigger.”

The implication being here, if I may, that “you are way too stupid to govern you silly little man, Scott Walker, if you don’t agree that science is the court of last resort and far superior to any irrational belief in a god.” “High-Horse” mal-ware defaces truth once again.

The interviewer’s question not only echoes Epicurus but also a Garden of Eden questioner. Remember the Genesis account of a ‘serpent’ speaking to Eve in the Garden? “Did God really say that you could not eat the fruit of that tree?” This could be taken as, “Does God really get involved or care or even know about your daily life? He shows up now and then. And what about that rule “don’t eat the fruit of that tree”? Would a ‘good’ God deprive you of the pleasure of ‘that’ fruit?

Epicurus would later answer (supposedly), “No, don’t deprive yourself. In my opinion even if there was a god he wouldn’t mind if you took your pleasure in the fruit of that tree. And is there a god? Men do evil and no good god would allow it. Let go of your fears. Go on Eve “Let It Go”, eat it. Any more questions?”

Now, if I were Scott Walker in that situation, my response would be, “Yes, I accept theistic evolution-a finely tuned theistic universe, a personal cause of the universe and a theistic objective morality. Science is only one of several tools for understanding the material world we live in and it won’t supply meaning. Science does not prove or disprove whether there is a god but it most assuredly hints at there being an Omnipotent Outsider. And.…(deep breath) I also accept the historical facts of the birth of God Incarnate–Jesus Christ, His “Sermon on the Mount” life among us for thirty years, Christ’s death on a cross, and his bodily resurrection. I accept the historicity of each of these facts. And, (another deep breath) I accept that all of this was done so that God could set up his Kingdom here on earth among men in order that He could make the earth righteous as he is righteous by redeeming and reconciling His eagerly awaiting creation to Himself. There will be no more bifurcation of heaven and earth. Any more questions?”

 

As I write this the U.S. is one nation under Epicurus, but not for long. The kingdoms and rulers of this world will soon be under submission to the One True God-The Lord Jesus Christ.  This King of Kings and Lord of Lords shall reign for ever and ever.

“Worthy is the Lamb…”

 

Adoration of the lamb Jan van Eyck (circa 1390-1441) Ghent altarpiece

Adoration of the lamb
Jan van Eyck (circa 1390-1441)
Ghent altarpiece

For further theistic evolution information see the Biologos website.

God Saw That It Was Good and So Do I

This past week I read an engaging book by scientist Francis S. Collins:  The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.  As someone who works in the engineering field and as a believer in God the book’s discussion of science and faith being compatible piqued my interest.

 Before reading this book I did have the innate understanding that science and faith were compatible and that each discipline reinforced the other with their respective insights and revelations but prior to reading this book I hadn’t seen much credible literature discussing this premise.  Currently there appears to be plenty of antipathy between the church and science. So as one might imagine I was excited to purchase the book and evaluate a scientist’s take on the connection. I was not disappointed.

Francis S. Collins, as the back cover bio reads, headed the Human Genome Project and is one of the world’s leading scientists. “He works at the cutting edge of the study of DNA, the code of life.  Yet he is also a man of unshakable faith in God and Scripture.

Dr. Collins believes that faith in God and faith in science can coexist within a person and be harmonious. In The Language of God he makes his case for God and Science.”

 Of special interest to me is the fact that Collins (as I do) accepts theistic evolution.  In Chapter Ten he writes: 

 “This view is entirely compatible with everything that science teaches us about the natural world.  It is also entirely compatible with the great monotheistic religions of the world.  The theistic evolution perspective cannot, of course, prove that God is real, as no logical argument can fully achieve that. Belief in God will always require a leap in faith.”

 The book lays out for the reader in very accessible terms how Collins who was not raised in a Christian home came to his belief in God as a budding scientist in his twenties.  The book goes on to discuss why Collins fully accepts theistic evolution as opposed to literal Creationism and Intelligent Design.  Based on his own research Collins says the evidence is overwhelming in favor of natural evolution as God’s creative methodology.  I would agree. 

 He then further encourages the church to endorse scientific research as a resource for understanding God’s creation, therefore offering a better understanding of God.  In concert with his plea I believe every church leader should purchase this book and read its message.  There is, sadly, too much bad information being preached and taught by the Christian Evangelical church regarding creation.  This bad information makes the church look rather foolish.  Remember Galileo’s row with the church? Being raised an Evangelical I was taught that the earth was created about 6-8000 years ago and that the seven days described in Genesis Chapter One were literal days:  Poof, we just showed up on the scene.

 As an adult, though, I became skeptical of the Creationist theology but I clung to it because I had heard of no other plausible evidence to the contrary.  Evolution was routinely discounted in the Evangelical church.  In fact everything I had heard in church told me that evolution was the atheist’s version of the Christian creation. Evolution was also described as a slippery slope which would carry people away from God toward unbelief.  And worse, the church seemed opposed to science and science was something I truly enjoyed being involved with.  I would later look into Intelligent Design (ID) and had wondered if ID might be the catch-all for my belief in God’s creative act. But I was to learn that ID was flawed theory that did not take into account the nature of God.

 My change in thinking occurred a few years ago when I came across the writings of Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga from the University of Notre Dame.  Spending two and a half hours on a train five days a week over the course of several years I had been able to read and research many different science and philosophy topics. And I did this precisely because I wanted to know more about God, the nature of His being and the world around me.  This excited me no end.  I don’t read romance novels.  I find my excitement by romancing the truth.

  Through reading Plantinga’s papers, though sometimes written in difficult philosophical terms, the door of my understanding was opened wide and I accepted theistic evolution as a valid creation methodology.  I would encourage anyone to read Plantinga’s papers.

 The basics of theistic evolution are clearly delineated in Francis Collins’ book and on the Biologos website.  Biologos is the name given to theistic evolution by scientist Collins.  Here are the Biologos premises/beliefs from that website:

 We believe that God created the universe, the earth, and all life over billions of years. God continues to providentially sustain the natural world, and the cosmos continues to declare the glory of God.

  • We believe that all people have sinned against God and are in need of salvation.
  • We believe in the historical incarnation of Jesus Christ as fully God and fully man. We believe in the historical death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, by which we are saved and reconciled to God.
  • We believe that God continues to be directly involved in human history in acts of salvation, personal transformation, and answers to prayer.
  • We believe the Bible is the inspired and authoritative word of God. By the Holy Spirit it is the “living and active” means though which God speaks to the church today, bearing witness to God’s Son, Jesus, as the divine Logos, or Word of God.
  • We believe that God also reveals himself in and through the natural world he created, which displays his glory, eternal power, and divine nature. Properly interpreted, scripture and nature are complementary and faithful witnesses to their common Author.
  • We believe that the methods of science are an important and reliable means to investigate and describe the world God has made. In this, we stand with a long tradition of Christians for whom Christian faith and science are mutually hospitable.
  • We believe that the diversity and interrelation of all life on earth are best explained by the God-ordained process of evolution and common descent. Thus, evolution is not in opposition to God, but a means by which God providentially achieves his purposes.
  • We believe that God created humans in biological continuity with all life on earth, but also as spiritual beings. God established a unique relationship with humanity by endowing us with his image and calling us to an elevated position within the created order.
  • We believe that conversations among Christians about controversial issues of science and faith can and must be conducted with humility, grace, honesty, and compassion as a visible sign of the Spirit’s presence in Christ’s body, the Church.
  • We reject ideologies such as Deism that claim the universe is self-sustaining, that God is no longer active in the natural world, or that God is not active in human history.
  • We reject ideologies such as Darwinism and Evolutionism that claim that evolution is a purposeless process or that evolution replaces God.
  • We reject ideologies such as Materialism and Scientism that claim science is the sole source of knowledge and truth, that science has debunked God and religion, or that the physical world constitutes the whole of reality.

 As a follower of Christ and as someone who seeks to bring people to faith in Him I see it as imperative that Evangelical church leaders (John Paul II accepted theistic evolution) come to grips with science (natural science, quantum physics, genetics, etc.) and to avail themselves of all empirical data and evidences coming out of science research.  As I see it the church and science are completely compatible.  Therefore, the church must not seek to restrain the hand of God, an evolved-incarnated hand that was once nailed to a tree, a resurrected hand that now reaches out to all of us.

 For more information about theism and theistic evolution:

 http://biologos.org/

Philosopher Sticks up for God

Alvin Plantinga

*****

Recommended Books about science and faith:

The Language of Faith:  Straight Answers to Genuine Questions by Karl Giberson and Francis Collins, Intervarsity Press, 2011

The Wonder of the Universe:  Hints of God in Our Fine-Tuned World by Karl W. Giberson, Intervarsity Press, 2012

Wrestling with God?

Christopher Hitchens, 1949–2011. God rest his free will.

*****

Out of fear of creating a post too long and drawn out (as it turned out to be) and one that no one may read I will try and summarize as best I can my take on the video posted below. Please view the video first. (You will need several cups of coffee.  Hold the scotch.)

*****

As you will see and hear in the video, Christopher Hitchens’ (Hitch) arguments for atheism (or against theism), after many dead-end asides, were centered on his aversion to having anyone telling anyone what to do.  His followers readily know that over the years Hitch has repeatedly taken umbrage on paper or in one-upmanship debates against totalitarianism and against any authoritarian person or religion having a say in his life or in the lives of others. For the record, William Lane Craig (marker 13:59) noted that Hitch despised and hated religion.

Hitch was certainly OK, though, with authoritarian imposition upon others if he felt the cause justified removing other authoritarian figures from the lives of those he thought were oppressed.  He, to the horror of the liberal elitists, aligned himself philosophically with G.W. Bush regarding the Iraq war and the war on terror against radical Islamists.

In the February 2012 issue of Vanity Fair, Salman Rushdie penned In Memoriam, Christopher Hitchens: 1949-2011. Rushdie wrote about Hitch’s return to the left:

“Paradoxically, it was God who saved Christopher Hitchens from the right. Nobody who detested God as viscerally, intelligently, originally, and comically as C. Hitchens could stay in the pocket of god-bothered American conservatism for long.  When he bared his fangs and went for God’s jugular, just as he had previously fanged Henry Kissinger, Mother Teresa, and Bill Clinton, the resulting book, God is not great, carried Hitch away from the American right and back toward his natural, liberal, ungodly constituency.”

As a way of life Hitch sought to stand juxtaposed to the universal rule of law (his own conscience) in an antinomian position while at the same time declaring moral diatribes against religious and political authorities he considered too over arching in their imposition. He also liked to keep his conscience well inebriated and his roving moralist eye ever looking elsewhere ~ looking outside and not within ~ denial and pretense being typical liberal traits.

With atheistic cowardice and hubris, Hitch attacked Mother Teresa, a little old lady. He apparently wanted to feed his prurient desire to neutralize any authority figure (overt or implied) by trying to bring her down several notches in people’s eyes.  Why? He claimed she was pushing her authoritarian teachings onto the helpless. He accused her of hypocrisy in her dealings (an easy, self-serving claim for an atheist to make against any Christian). He may have felt threatened by her devotion to an unseen God and her ability to make things happen for others and doing so as a little old lady.

Why would a grown man verbally attack a helpless woman who indeed went about helping others who themselves were under the totalitarianism of poverty and squalor?  Maybe Hitch thought she wasn’t helpless. Maybe it was a direct attack against God. It certainly was an act of unmatched intelligential cowardice. To be sure Mother Teresa fought the unseen authorities of this world (the “powers of darkness”) by physically helping the outcast, the hungry and the hurting with an agape-powered love and not verbal hubris.

Hitch, on the other hand, fought the very public “seen” authorities of this world by aligning rhetorically with causes which he felt were important for him. He should have noted that he and Mother Teresa were fighting the same issue ~ human suffering at the hands of others (whether a dictator or a false religion) -from two different sides. Yet, he chose to denigrate Mother Teresa. I believe he did this because he felt threatened by her belief in the unseen God.

Hitch postures that Christians, especially Christian missionaries like Mother Teresa, are hypocrites who say things they know to be true and good but live disconnected lives apart from such truth – their deeds not matching match their words. This argument (?) against God was replayed in his use the La Rochefoucauld quote “hypocrisy is a tribute vice pays to virtue.” Yet, this hypocrisy argument folds in on itself if one were to hold any moral standard at all. Perhaps Hitch, a polymath, saw moral laws as “many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore.” (The Raven, Edgar Allen Poe)

Clearly Hitch’s excessive lifestyle (his immoderate drinking, smoking, etc. have been noted elsewhere) made his salacious attacks against God all the more the more forthcoming and lubricious.  His lifestyle had also proved his belief in nihilism – life is nothing if not suffering. So he apparently used a “get it while you can” justification to medicate the blows between verbal jousting contests.

His liquid lifestyle also spoke to the fact of Hitch’s drive for “freedom” from any limitation imposed on his person including by his own person – his physiology. He chose against himself again and again.  He did this while throwing the world a bone now and then, choosing willy-nilly causes to deflect away any personal soul-searching which might lead to accountability to any higher authority. (see marker 25: 5, If god does not exist then objective moral standards don’t exist – a self-satisfying argument.)

Hitch detested dictatorships of all kinds and he did so while as a potentate of his own world. He would not bend the knee to anyone or to anything.  He would fight, as Salmon Rushdie recalled in the same Vanity Fair article remembering his friend, for anyone who was made to do so.  Hitch’s rebellion was against dictatorial authority of any kind and not just in the political and religious realm.  And he certainly rebelled against authority stated as codified truth – the Bible and the recorded history of the resurrection of Jesus.  His moral relativism, stated above, is characteristic of most atheists (and the “ungodly constituency”) since they affirm that no moral standard exists outside one’s self.

In the video Hitch asks the universal question posed to theism:  why would a God who was all powerful and good allow suffering?  My answer:  suffering comes out of created man’s free-will choices in a fallen world. God has allowed it for a time but not forever. Justice will be meted out and suffering will end.

He continues his disbelief:  “Why would God spend eons of time in creating a world that he could set up in a blink of an eye?” He went on to say that Christians are now co-opting evolution theory in accordance with the Creation argument, evolution being a position long held by atheists.  He “christens” this “tactic” or “style” of argument as “retrospective evidentialism” or as a “second thought.” (marker 37:40)

As a Christian theist I see no conflict whatsoever with science and creation.  I believe in theistic evolution-a finely tuned theistic universe, a personal cause of the universe and a theistic objective morality. As scientific evidence becomes available it should be used and not discarded.  Beyond scientific proofs, my own belief in God is vindicated every day because I, a rational human being, know that God exists. I continue to pursue Him actively and I submit to His authority. Hitch, on the other hand, fled from any such authority outside of himself and employed his own existentialist belief system where he felt safe from intrusion.

Also in the video, Hitch uses the Creationist argument of a literal seven days to say that we as Christians are basically lunatics to believe such things. Again, I see no conflict with a Creationist’s position of a literal seven days and the theory of relativity which could make thousands of millennia appear as seven literal days.

Hitch takes another jab at Christian theism by invoking his own god-like view point when questioning why God would do what Christian theists believe He did. He balks (and I’ll paraphrase):  “…the eons of time that God has created-evolved ~ that all of this fine tuning, mass extinction and randomness is the will of a Creator God (marker 40:21) and that all of this happened so that one very imperfect race of evolved primates might become Christian ~ all of this was “with us in view” is a curious kind of solipsism, a curious kind of self-centeredness.”  Hitch jests that he thought Christians were modest and humble, not self-centered with certain arrogance to the assumption that this “was all about us.” And, “The tremendous wastefulness of it, the tremendous cruelty of it, the tremendous caprice of it, the tremendous tinkering and incompetence of it, never mind at lease we’re here and we can be people of faith.” This projection from one who, with a free will, spoke from a self-centered and solipsistic core!

The Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Creator, was always meant to bypass the wise of this earth: “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As the Scriptures say, “He traps the wise in the snare of their own cleverness.”” (Apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church).   A priori rebellion coded as cleverness is found in the Mitochondrial DNA of man.

Apart from free-wheeling self-directed solipsism, there is a bounty of sound arguments for theism and William Lane Craig (WLC) highlights them artfully:  “No good argument that atheism is true, there are good arguments that theism is true ~ not via social questions or ethics (marker 16:00).

WLC philosophical arguments in quick notation:

Cosmological argument:  things exist, not nothing; the universe began to exist not infinite, not eternal ~ Big Bang Beginning, ex-nihilo, a cause by an UnCause beyond space and time;  David Hillburg ~ The infinite;  there must be a cause of creation. This Being must be uncaused, timeless, space unfathomable & personal and not abstract thought or object; The universe has begun to exist and is not infinite, not eternal (astrophysics concur); Past event are real, there must be Personal creator of the universe, transcendent intelligent mind

Teological argument:  (marker 20:00) finely tuned universe ~ mathematically constants (e.g., gravity) not determined by the laws of nature & the arbitrary conditions (entropy, balance between matter and antimatter); any change in these would be the end of life itself (the atomic weak force being altered)

Chance?  Odds are incomprehensibly great, life prohibiting universes are more probable

It follows logically by Design ~ intelligent argument, intelligent designer

Moral argument (marker 25: 15):  if god does not exist then objective moral standards don’t exist; if God exists then valid and binding; the morality that has emerged proves that god exists ~ via moral experience; we understand that there are things that are really wrong.

Historical fact (marker 27:40):  The resurrection of Jesus a historical fact not just a belief;  tomb discovered empty eyewitnesses;  individuals and groups saw Jesus, appearances to believers and unbelievers;  the original disciples believed in the resurrection and Jewish religion believed otherwise about when resurrection occurs; Christian die for the truth of the resurrection (marker 30:26)

Experiential knowledge:  The experience of God or claim to know that God exists – properly basic beliefs part of a system of beliefs including the belief of an external world;   Context of physical objects; grounded in our experience of God; God immediate reality

Hitch responds (marker 33:16):  arguments the same across religions ~ belief in God but differences; presuppositionalists (by faith) and the evidentialists a distinction without a difference.

As you will note Hitch’s arguments are all basically dismissive of Christian belief and are not evidentiary in favor of atheism; note his “rather sweet” dismissal of those who believe ~ that those of faith should have evidence.  (Hitch once again conveniently dismisses the facts of the resurrection and the improbability of causation by chance.)

Hitch: “We argue that is no plausible or convincing reason, certainly no evidential one to believe that there is such an entity…all observable phenomena is explicable (marker 42:00); I don’t believe that following the appropriate rituals…

“Even if this deity did exit it doesn’t prove that he cared about us…cared who we had sex with …care whether we lived or died… (marker 42:32)

“Miracles suspend the natural order ~ Christians want it both ways (“promiscuous”) (marker 44:00); The natural order – “It is miraculous without a doubt”

“I have to say that I appear as a skeptic, I doubt these things.” (marker 46:16)

“The theist says it must be true…”Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”;

Too early in the study of biology…to make these claims.”

Perhaps Hitch, the verbal grappler, was as a sound and fury professional wrestler who was successfully agile at avoiding a real match-up with Truth. But now, the fight has ended, the match is over. All that’s left in the empty corner is a book ~  God is Not Great.   His last words?