Archives for posts with tag: BioLogos

I always enjoy reading BioLogos. The site is an extraordinary resource in so many regards.

I shared this on my Facebook page without comment. Then I shared it again with a short comment.

http://biologos.org/blog/embracing-faith-accepting-ambiguity

Now, after reading it a second time, I just have to write more.

This young woman opens her story in a depression suffered six years ago. Her depression was at least part physical, but it seems clear it primarily arose from a lack of truth and understanding. She had never found sound teaching and solid information. She had been led to believe she had only one option, of accepting or rejecting fundamentalism. She described it as thinking her only options were a fundamentalism she could no longer believe, and empty agnosticism. While certainty is certainly absurd, claiming ignorance in the ultimate sense is, in my view, irrational. I consider agnosticism as the abandonment of all reason.

Our story-teller explains that her upbringing had been fundamentalist, Pentecostal, and settled. She said any questioning was simply not accepted. The truths were known. That was not much different from my own upbringing, but my Baptist grandfather was a man of science. (An eye doctor, but he could have been anything, from a machinist to a physics or mathematics professor. He was a practical engineer, inventor, tinkerer.) He helped me learn to question everything from my earliest years.

I forget how early I started. I never accepted any notions of a young earth. From earliest school days, the unimaginable age of the earth and universe were given. I would unreservedly rebuff any assertions regarding merely some few thousand years for earth. It was just not reasonable.

It took me longer to come to grips with evolution. Gradually, by about 20 years of age, I accepted that biological evolution and common descent were simply how God created man from the dust of the earth. I accepted it based on general science, but since some of the breakthroughs of genomics, there is simply no excuse. Nothing, absolutely nothing in any aspect of every facet of science having anything to do with life in any way, including human life, makes sense without a Darwinian evolutionary framework. Theodosius Dobzhansky made this statement in the early 1970s, long before I realized it. Theo was, and remains, right. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nothing_in_Biology_Makes_Sense_Except_in_the_Light_of_Evolution. It has only been recently that I became aware that people have been thinking like I do for so long.

These words of hers are particularly worth repeating:

Nearly every day for the first year or two after we moved, I prayed the words of the Roman centurion over and over and over again, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.” Sometimes it was all that I could manage, but over time I realized that I wasn’t clinging so hard to those words anymore, and I became more sure that even if everything else that I had ever believed passed away, I knew that Jesus was the Son of God, and that was enough. From there I began slowly and painfully and uncertainly reworking my faith.

I don’t suppose I’ve ever fallen so deep, but I’ve had similar times. Jesus is enough. Sometimes, that is all that matters, all that is real.

By the way, it has never been any aspect of science that has hurt me, only people, usually in betrayal of trust.

Impressive list of authors she found to help her learn truth: Matthew Paul Turner, Madeleine L’Engle, C.S. Lewis, Donald Miller, Scot McKnight, N.T. Wright, Timothy Keller, and Greg Boyd.

She mentions that questions specifically about evolution didn’t come up with her for a long time. She’s not specific, but I suspect it was after college and marriage. For me, it was early. I accepted it very young, but drew a distinction at the special dignity of humanity being in the image of God. I now can hardly even remember what my arguments were. I now see the miracle of in-breathed-ness as simply something God did at the right time, and science and biology will never be able to define it, much less pin down the when of it.

Mainly noting for my own mental processing, she indicates they had four children in the space of about six years up to last year, 2014. She mentioned being busy as a mother. Busy indeed. Blessed indeed. They thought to homeschool as an interim. Liked it. Kept homeschooling. Again, blessed!

Another quote-worthy comment:

As I began researching which curriculums I wanted to use next year, I realized that all of the Christian homeschool science curriculums were likely to be written from the young-earth creationist perspective. I did not want that for my kids, so I began researching other options. That’s when I discovered BioLogos. The BioLogos team helped me find a science curriculum, but much more than that, they helped me to practically and articulately answer questions of how faith and science can be reconciled.

To this, I relate! Ask my wife. She too.

Our family moves in fundamentalist and Wesleyan circles. It comes with the territory of taking one’s faith seriously and homeschooling, especially when raised that way.

I expect to run into young-earth views and antievolutionary views, and I expect some derision, but I don’t expect hate and viciousness. Sadly, that is exactly what we occasionally see. Sometimes first person, in the flesh. Other times, more secondhand. There are periodicals we used to get, but not anymore. We dropped/avoid such because of articles that call me sinner, or compromiser, or worse, because I don’t accept their take on a few bible verses that they interpret in nontraditional ways. (Yes, check the history. YEC is a modern, post-WWI phenomenon that was based primarily in fear, but also in racism–which included southern US racism, anti-German racism, and anti-Semitism.) It is hardly compelling, but it is noteworthy that the majority of Christians reject young-earth notions and accept evolution, at least in a general, nonspecific sense.

So, for our family, finding or assembling curriculum for our scientifically inclined boys has been a challenge. My elder son is as adamant about all things science, and more so than me, with the exuberance of youth. The younger cares less about all things controversial, but the intricacies of all of creation enthrall him. That includes most all scientific topics as well as all things artistic.

Many talk about “world view.” They use it as a code word meaning narrow fundamentalist dogma.

To me, worldview must be summed in commitment to truth. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Jesus is truth. I cannot cotton to lying for Jesus. I’m certain Jesus doesn’t either. Clinging to a narrow interpretation of certain scriptures does not make a worldview. Simply refusing to accept obvious, demonstrable facts and processes is dishonest. In all practical aspects life, that is lying. I seem to remember scripture explaining that liars have their place in the lake of fire. Literalist somehow have a more liberal view on that than I do.

Our story-teller explains that her growth and realization was slow, gradual, even halting. She supposes it is that way for most of us. I suppose so too. I tend to forget, though, that I have been at this longer than she has lived. I literally have been building my faith, my views, my understanding of all things science for over four decades now. Hardly any time at all. I’m still such a novice. However, I have much more experience than most people addressing such issues.

Life is a nonstop journey, with scarcely time to rest. Thank God there is a rest in Him. Still, though life is often hard, and often challenging, even thrilling, it can be so ridiculously shallow if we don’t deliberately dig deep. There is more to everything. The ultimate question, why, is never completely answered. There is always more. There will always be more. Always.

If you didn’t click the link and read her article, you really should, especially those last two paragraphs.

 

BioLogos has reposted this article by Denis Alexander which I must have missed last year. Dr. Alexander has several articles at BioLogos, and in this one he discusses why religion and philosophy are so important to science and facts.

While our genetics determine much about us, our genes do NOT determine who we are. Our choices are much more important to who we are and who we become. We are free moral agents, and we always have the ability to choose to do what is right.

Enjoy Dr. Alexander’s article: http://biologos.org/blog/made-in-the-image-of-god-human-values-and-genomics2

For millennia it was uniquely the pharaoh or the king who was seen as being in the “image of a god” in the polytheistic political systems of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Adad-shum-ussur, a court astrologer and cultic official in the seventh century B.C. royal court of Nineveh, made clear that the Assyrian king Esarhaddon is the very image of Bel (Marduk), the top god of that era:

A (free) man is as the shadow of god, the slave is as the shadow of a (free) man; but the king, he is like unto the (very) image of god.

That understanding is very significant. The ancient perception is still among us. We really do not see ourselves as truly free. We do not see ourselves created in the image of God, but in some shadow form that exists mostly as a slave. No, it is not just the king, not just the emperor, not even the President. It is all of you. We are all created like God, knowing both good and evil. Each, always, with the ability to do good, or to not. Each with the ability to realize our own destiny.

This whole last bit of the article is worth repeating:

Then God said, “Let us make adam [humankind] in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created adam in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. [Genesis 1:26-27].

In its historical context, the implications were revolutionary: the kingly and priestly male roles previously allocated to the privileged few by a pantheon of gods were now being delegated instead by the one creator God to the whole of humanity, male and female. In a stroke the entire ruling and priestly structure of Mesopotamian society was delegitimized. The Imago Dei was being democratized and it was now humankind who were to be the significant players in the arena of earthly life, the mandate to rule underlying their new responsibilities. Above all, humanity was set free by the one true God to determine their own destiny, no longer under the yoke of all-powerful dictators, nor under the baleful astrological control of the moon and stars.

Yet, ever since, humans have become experts at re-enslaving themselves, refusing the responsibilities that come with free-choice and submitting instead to narratives of fate and destiny. It seems ironic that today it is not the creation myths of ancient Babylon but the ideological interpretations of biology that provide the narratives of fate, in which genes “pull” humans toward certain political views and people cannot change their minds because their convictions are “rooted in their physiology.”

“It’s in his or her DNA” is a new phrase becoming increasingly embedded in our language, referring to something that cannot apparently be changed. On Sept. 8, 2012, Brad Pitt was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying that “America is a country founded on guns. It’s in our DNA. It’s very strange but I feel better having a gun.” No it’s not in our DNA, Mr. Pitt, either literally or metaphorically. People have choices — they are the prisoners neither of their genetics, nor of their physiology, nor indeed of their environments. Human beings made in the image of God are free to chart their own destiny in a way that preserves human value and dignity. On that we can leave the last word to Abraham Lincoln: “…nothing stamped with the Divine image and likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on, and degraded, and imbruted by its fellows” (Aug. 17, 1858).

I must emphasize Lincoln: “…nothing stamped with the Divine image and likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on, and degraded, and imbruted by its fellows.

It really isn’t that hard. We are each free. I stand before God the same as all others. I answer for myself, myself alone, to Him, to Him alone.

http://biblehub.com/esv/romans/14.htm

4Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own mastera that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. http://biblehub.com/romans/14-4.htm (The individual verses include the selected commentary notes.)

If we recognize each person individually, if we see each of us “stamped with the Divine image and likeness”, then we cannot treat each other wrongly. We cannot try to rule over or coerce. We will walk in freedom and responsibility, and we will acknowledge, “Life is tough, but it’s tougher if you’re stupid.” If we remember that we all suffer and we all die young, it is a little easier to keep things in perspective.

Just remember, He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

The title comes from the words of our Lord. Note, Jesus added “mind” to the quote from the Jewish Law. Mark tells us Jesus said it, adding mind, and the lawyer answered back wisely that we must love God with our whole understanding. It is clear that part of our service to, and love for, God includes our thinking and knowledge. That is science and philosophy. It is unwise, according to the scripture, to hold that there is animosity between science and faith. In fact, I hold that there cannot be one without the other.

Shannon Medisky wrote an article for BioLogos, http://biologos.org/blog/soul-strength-and-mind-how-biologos-brought-me-out-of-hiding, explaining how she felt shunned by her fellow Christians for accepting science without twisting it to certain dogma. I’ll add that the dogma in question is not even orthodox.

Ms. Medisky explains how she grew up as excited about Jesus as she was about science, but she soon realized that most Christians won’t stand for that. She closeted herself.

She correctly states:

We’re called to love God with all our soul, strength and mind. My scientific pursuits and interests were an important part of the latter. Learning more about the world—including how we got here—was simply another facet of honoring God. And to do anything less than wonder, question and learn would be to deny a very important part of the potential God so graciously gave us all.

That is how I have always felt. Like her, I’ve always stayed quiet about my acceptance of science, especially after I lost all reservations regarding biological evolution, but I’ve never been one to back down or equivocate. If you ask, I’m going to answer, and I’ll be as honest as I know how to be.

She wrote for BioLogos. It makes sense that she praised them highly. While she felt alone, I learned long ago there were plenty of Christians like me who accepted science as simply part of God’s creation. Still, BioLogos is a comfort to me too, and it is an excellent resource. If you want to learn, BioLogos is an excellent place to start.

Of course, if you’d rather just be fundamentalist, go ahead and take the indoctrination and talking points of the young-earth creationists, and be confrontational and sure of yourself. However, I strongly recommend following the words of the prophet Micah, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Yes, this is what the Lord requires of each of us.

Regarding Jesus statements regarding creation.

Mike listed, “Mark 10:6: Mark 13:9; Luke 11:50-51; john 5:45-47 links Jesus to Moses- Exodus 20:11 plainly says God created the world in 6 days. Pretty strait forward teaching by our Lord and savior.”

But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’

but from the beginning of the creation, a male and a female God did make them;

6 ἀπὸ δὲ ἀρχῆς κτίσεως ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ ἐποίησεν αὐτούς

http://biblehub.com/interlinear/mark/10-6.htm

2And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3He answered them, What did Moses command you?” 4They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” 5And Jesus said to them, Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 6But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife,a 8and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Context here has hardly anything to do with creation. It is about divorce. It is about the hardness of their hearts. It is about submitting ourselves to the order God establishes. There is no hint of Jesus sanctioning some interpretation of the creation hymns over some other.


Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible
But from the beginning of the creation,…. Of the world, or of man: , “from the beginning of the creation of the world”, is a way of speaking often used by the Jews (r): the phrase “of the creation” is left out in the Syriac and Persic versions; and so it was in Beza’s most ancient copy, and it is only read, “from the beginning”, as in Mat_19:4,8; see Gill on 
Matthew 19:4, See Gill on Matthew 19:8

As Gill points out, the creation reference is simply “beginning.” It seems unlikely Jesus added more than “in beginning, God.” No elaboration regarding how or what.

Seem to have missed something with Mark 13:9. Seems more of a Freudian slip. Perhaps the reference is to verse 19.

I’m not quite sure how this apocalyptic statement applies to “creation,” but:

http://biblehub.com/mark/13-19.htm

For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be.

for those days shall be tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the creation that God created, till now, and may not be

19 ἔσονται γὰρ αἱ ἡμέραι ἐκεῖναι θλῖψις, οἵα οὐ γέγονεν τοιαύτη ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς κτίσεως ἣν ἔκτισεν ὁ Θεὸς ἕως τοῦ νῦν καὶ οὐ μὴ γένηται.

http://biblehub.com/interlinear/mark/13-19.htm

The language is hyperbolic, not making any commentary on creation. Mike, I certainly hope you understand that I hold God as creator.

http://biblehub.com/luke/11-51.htm

from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation.

from the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, who perished between the altar and the house; yes, I say to you, It shall be required from this generation.

http://biblehub.com/matthew/23-35.htm

What am I missing here? How does this have anything to do with commentary on some interpretation of the creation hymns?

http://biblehub.com/esv/john/5.htm

45Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

Again, what am I missing? Jesus believed in Moses. I believe in Moses. How does this enlighten us regarding some interpretation of the creation hymns?

I’ll throw in this: http://www.godofevolution.com/did-jesus-believe-in-a-six-day-creation-and-a-literal-adam/ I find Mr. Francke a bit hard to take at times, but I generally agree with him.

The symbology of the creation week in the first creation hymn of Genesis is not in question. I do wonder how someone can take this particular bit of the story and make it literal while ignoring such assertions about a firm dome that separates the waters of the heavens from the waters of the earth. Perhaps you haven’t noticed, but there is nothing firm up in the sky, and there are certainly no waters up there for such a dome to keep from falling on us.

http://biblehub.com/hebrew/7549.htm

One can pretend the word just means “expanse,” but it clearly indicates the firm separation of waters above and below the earth. The notion is elsewhere in the bible, including http://biblehub.com/2_peter/3-5.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_cosmology

http://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/ngier/gre13.htm

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2012/11/ancient-hebrew-cosmology.html

http://www.religioustolerance.org/cosmo_bibl2.htm

Don’t forget the fact that the first three chapters of Genesis contain two separate hymns. The two are different in so many ways that asserting they are somehow the same, by the same author, is simply disingenuous. I suspect that if Moses were around, he’d tell us that the two creation hymns were the stories of his people, God’s people. I further suspect that if Moses were to deny such an obvious and simple explanation and attempt to prove in a court of law that he was the original and sole author of the two stories, he could not convince a jury, especially if Shem and Ham were able to speak up and claim authorship of one each before Moses.

So, Mike, for the record, I agree with Jesus. I cannot find evidence that Jesus ever said anything about creation that could help us know how to interpret the creation hymns. Any assertion regarding Jesus’ teaching about creationism is simply wrong.

The clear teaching of Jesus was to love one another.

I consider this a central tenet of Jesus, “28And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29Jesus answered, The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

I consider Jesus’ addition of “mind” to be significant, and I choose to love the lord with all my mind. My mind includes the knowledge that several different, independent disciplines in science confirm the usefulness of the aspects of biological evolution day in and day out.

I routinely post information related to evolution, and the weight of evidence, the breadth of evidence, the practicality of the evidence is overwhelming. I could not honor truth any other way than accept that evolution is a theory is as established and as useful as the theory of gravity.

As a closing thought, consider ebola. It is big in the news right now. Please review this article: http://thenaturalhistorian.com/2014/10/24/fossil-virus-found-in-hamsters-points-to-an-ancient-origin-of-ebola-virus/

(I reblogged that blog article previously.) Consider that virus DNA sometimes gets mixed up into animal DNA, and it goes along for the ride through the generations. The Natural Historian discusses an example of such with regard to ebola and hamsters and voles. Do hamsters and voles fit your definition of “kinds”?

Consider this: http://biologos.org/blog/the-evolutionary-origins-of-genetic-information-part-1

That set of articles goes in-depth explaining what we know of biological evolution in genetics.

Regardless, there are plenty of confirmable examples of speciation. It takes a determined, a predetermined, mindset to ignore the evidence and keep asking for more. Jesus had it happen to him, and he replied that the only sign would be his resurrection. Well, I can’t and won’t make such claims, but I find it insulting to be badgered about examples of speciation when a simple Google search can find many, many examples in the published literature in seconds.

Further, evolution does not depend on confirmation of a common ancestor for all of us apes. In fact, the practicality of evolution doesn’t depend on any aspect of it being proven. The fact remains that it is useful. It is probably the most useful and most beneficial theory in all of science, in all of history.

Finally, let’s go so far as to suppose some knowledge and evidences are discovered that are so profound that all of biological evolution is “disproven” and abandoned and replaced by new theories that work even better. Then what? Would it prove God? Would it lend any support to creationism? No. It would not. God would still be approachable ONLY by faith. The railers would still rail. No new thing would be under the sun.

Accordingly, I close with a question: Why fight me and others who accept the obvious? Why tell me I’m wrong to acknowledge evolution? Why badger me for evidence you won’t accept? Why pretend some society or organization will give me money if I “prove” evolution? You know good and well that no one will ever collect on such an “offer.” The criteria set are simply impossible. Why not admit that such offers are only grandstanding? Admit that such offers are disingenuous.

Obey Jesus and love.

Warning: If you came here to find confirmation of your preconceived ideas, you are probably in the wrong place. Regardless, Welcome! I hope you can learn something here in the things I find worth recording.

At the BioLogos web site, Graeme Finlay has written an interesting and compelling article about our genetics. He tells his own story, and his writing style is good and easy to read. He points out that cancers grow from a single defective cell. He explains some of the details related to critters with common ancestors.

We all know that our DNA is a mixture of our parents’ DNA, and the sequence runs for each generation. Accordingly, my children have genetic markers that my uncle had. With our ever-increasing abilities in genetic sequencing technologies, we can now look at the most minute details of the genome, and what we can see is not only quite observable (something the bully Ray Comfort always asks for), but it is also quite obvious.

Dr. Finlay presents the information so we can all understand.

I invite you to click the link, read, and see if you agree.

http://biologos.org/blog/human-evolution-genes-genealogies-and-phylogenies

Please find the comment button if you care to add anything. I’m always open to comments.

In the movie God’s Not Dead, an absurdly simplistic assertion is attributed to Stephen Hawking, namely, “The universe exists because the law of gravity demands it.” (Approximately, a presumably exact quote can be found on the wiki page for him.)

I say that statement is absurd because it doesn’t address the basic question it pretends to answer, “Why?” First, it essentially makes gravity and universal laws into god, thus making Hawking a deist rather atheist, but that is irrelevant at the moment. The main point is the time. If such laws necessitated, even made inevitable the spontaneous bursting forth of some things from nothing, why didn’t it happen sooner? Why was there a beginning it all? If Hawking’s naivety is more than insane ramblings, why can we tell for certain there is a beginning? Shouldn’t the eternal, preexisting law of gravity, et al., have necessitated the existence of the something from eternity past? Why the borrowing, inflation, and eventual death payment resulting, again, in nothing?

On the BioLogos blog, Ted Davis presents some opening comments and an article by Ted Peters. http://biologos.org/blog/getting-some-thing-from-no-thing It is excellent.

Here is a quote for the ages:

To be nothing (no-thing) is to be indeterminate. To be something (some-thing) is to be determinate. To be determinate is to exist in spacetime. The act of creation signals a shift from the indeterminancy of nothing to the spacetime determinancy of the things which constitute the universe. This leads to the question: is the event of creation itself a temporal event? At first, it would seem that it must be temporal, because for one thing to have a determinate effect on another thing they both must share a single spacetime continuum. But if space and time are themselves the result of the creative act, then the creative act itself cannot be subject to the same spacetime determinancy. So, perhaps it is better to speak of the creative act itself as eternal rather than temporal. By “eternal” here we do not mean simple everlastingness but rather supratemporality. As eternal, God’s act of creation is tangential to time and related to time, yet it is not subject to determinancy by time save in the sense already mentioned—that is, in the reflexive sense that the eternal creator is so defined as a result of the existence of temporal creation. In short, the event of creation marks the transition from eternity to time.

Good stuff. The whole article is one of those you need to read a few times to be confident you know what it says. Even more thought, effort, and time are required to comprehend such things.

The super genius Hawking seems to think his words have meaning when he asks what God was doing before He created the universe. Does that great mind not realize the word “before” has no meaning outside the space-time continuum? “Before” means nothing until AFTER time began. Ted Peters addresses the point better in the article.

I didn’t realize this:

References and Credits

Excerpts from Ted Peters, “On Creating the Cosmos,” in Physics, Philosophy and Theology: A Common Quest for Understanding (1988), ed. Robert John Russell, William R. Stoeger, S.J., and George V. Coyne, S.J., copyright Vatican Observatory Foundation, are reproduced by kind permission of Ted Peters and Vatican Observatory Foundation. We gratefully acknowledge their cooperation in bringing this material to our readers.

I could have read this decades ago.

 

Orthodox bishop Metropolitan Nicholas:

“Research that is done to challenge God, has the disease of prejudice. Research is done to discover scientific truth. What problem is there with someone wanting to broaden the horizons of their thoughts and knowledge? God is approached better this way. God is not an ideology that we should by all means defend, but we believe in Him because He is Truth. In this sense, even scientific truth reveals Him. If He is still questioned, it is time to find out about Him. A believer who fears scientific research, fears the truth. Perhaps he is a believer who does not believe.”

Biologos.org is an excellent resource.

On Valentine’s Day, they posted this love note regarding the #hamonney debate:

http://biologos.org/blog/origins-news-round-up-for-friday-february-14-2014

I’ll second this one:

http://thefederalist.com/2014/02/06/letting-go-of-the-god-of-the-gaps/  Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve stood against young earth creationism nearly 50 years. I’ve stood against global warming alarmism for over 20 years. They are the same thing. Both are committed to agenda driven ideology with no commitment to truth, facts, and verifiable observation.

The #hamonnye nonsense yesterday was as bad as I suspected it would be. I missed too much of it while driving kids to say much, but I expected Nye to be shallow. He was. I expected Ham to focus on the trivial and to equivocate. He did.

Truth! Above all. I saw very little truth from Ham. Very sad, especially since he is a professing Christian.

Biologos.com is a truth-committed source of information.

Like me, they expressed little hope regarding the #hamonnye event.

They have addressed the result here: http://biologos.org/blog/ham-on-nye-our-take

I hold firmly to free will as an absolute and defining aspect of human kind. Each of us is a free moral agent, responsible and accountable.

Recent study results and other data have led some to assert that free will and decision-making is illusory, that our choices are simply response to stimuli and our perception that we acted intentionally and independently is just an illusion. Philosopher Eddy Nahmias calls proponents of this thinking “willusionists.”

BioLogos (a worthy blog) has presented an article by Dr. Tim O’Connor where he argues effectively that the new science in this regard is a work in progress, hardly worth more than evidence of things to come, and that the arguments are entirely inadequate for denial of free will.

http://biologos.org/blog/human-moral-responsibility-and-the-sciences-of-the-mind

While I don’t see willusionist thinking altering anything practical in the near future, I do see it as another tool for self-serving progressives to use for justifying their actions and the ever-present unintended consequences, which invariably result in more hardship and suffering than the idealistic well-intended programs were to solve.

The human conscience is problematic for most of us because it makes us feel guilty when we fail to live up to our own standards, even the perceived standards of others, especially when morality is involved.

Sometimes the guilt floods us, and sometimes we think we just can’t swim after forty days, or worse. It is problematic.

In response, most of us turn inward and to religion. This is good. This is history.

Scoffers point to religion and claim it is at the root of the conflicts throughout history, but they miss the obvious. The conflicts are a result of free will and the ever-present drive in us all to control our surroundings and secure our well-being. One can control most aspects of life by planning, hard work, and good-faith effort. One can even build up defenses and plan contingencies against the forces of nature. However, one cannot plan for and control the actions of free moral agents. If someone will not act in good faith, nor in good will, there is a problem.

The only way to control us humans is by coercion with adequate force of power and arms to back it up. The fact that such immoral actions have been draped in religious trappings from time to time is sad all around.

The short version of the willisionist thinking is that there are no morals and no justification for guilt. When we start saying that, we have totally lost the bubble.

The reality is, we have free will. We can choose anything we will. We can choose well or poorly. We can choose right or wrong. It is all on only one, me, the chooser. I am liable once I do it. I will reap accordingly sooner or later. God doesn’t set it. Heisenberg doesn’t set it. I do. You do. It is what we are. I am the choices I make.

Own up to it, and do better. Move forward, and trust God to fulfill His promise to eventually perfect you. (I happen to think that will be long into the next life, whatever long might mean in that context.)

 

BioLogos presents some comments from  Ryan Mullins on time and eternity.

For part one of his comments, I shared on my facebook page and said, “Apparently I have a relational view of time, and I’m a presentist.”

In part two, Mr. Mullins delves much more deeply, in a rather superficial way.

http://biologos.org/blog/questions-on-time-and-eternity-part-2

The superficial part is because he keeps it short. (So click and read. I’ll wait.)

I like to say that your god is too small. Mine is too.

I try to let God be bigger than anything, especially my own limitations and misconceptions. I suspect I will retain the view that God is timeless and immutable. Time cannot be quite what we think it is.

Physics and mathematics have recently suggested time and locality are emergent characteristics of reality, and that the universe is something we hardly understand at all yet. If I may be allowed the point that God created this universe, then I suspect God is infinitely more complicated and deeper in reality than the universe, no matter how deep and complex the universe ultimately is.

It seems that trying to define the divine and eternity requires defining both, and that pretty much sets limits on something defined as limitless. (Complicated, isn’t it.) Kind of like wondering what happened before the creation, before the universe, before time. “Before” doesn’t have any context or meaning outside of time, so asking about before time is like asking about beneath the bottom. Isn’t it pointless to ask what is within the center point? It’s reminds me of turtles, all the way down.

Perhaps we have all imagined what it would be like to be able to stop time for the universe and step out of it and continue in some isolated bubble, perhaps accomplish some otherwise impossible achievement. It is silly to suppose this means stopping time. It simply means speeding up our own actions such that everything else seems essentially still. Time would march on. Time just doesn’t seem  to have context relative to eternity.

I commented previously regarding exploring the universe and supposed it impossible. There simply would not be enough time. That is, the time the entire universe will exist doesn’t seem to provide enough time for us finite humans to be able to explore it thoroughly, at least not in the sense of travelling it throughout its extent. I think it nonsense to consider what happened before time began. It is the same to contemplate what will happen after time ends. There is no context. Such words stretch beyond any possible sense and meaning.

 

When the Focus on the Family organization produced their Truth Project DVD set, I was optimistic. Then I started hearing things. Then I started researching. I few friends looked into it. I heeded their opinions, and some of them worked through the lessons in small groups. Most were quite positive about it. Most of my friends are not particularly worried about exactness in scientific matters. I am. Most of my friends are not engineers. I am.

I quickly realized I could not let my children participate in the viewing in a small group setting, unless that small group was limited to only our family. It was clear that the Truth Project played fast and loose with the truth on occasion. While I think there may still be value in the series for my children, I wouldn’t consider sanctioning their viewing without me in control of the pause button and able to redirect, clarify, and correct. I may not be right, but I am daddy. My girls are all of age now, and I’ve deliberately and conscientiously taught my children to think and act for themselves. I don’t want them to be clones of me, but I am unwilling to let them hear something from authority that I disagree with unless they also hear my disagreement.

BioLogos presents an article by  Dorothy Boorse, here,  http://biologos.org/blog/science-and-the-truth-project-part-2 where she reviews the lesson-5 DVD in the Truth Project series.

Dr. Boorse presents a very clear case regarding the lack of truth in the lectures reviewed.

Perhaps I shouldn’t say lack of truth. Perhaps it is more a lack of commitment to THE truth; to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God.

The simple fact is that evolutionary theory is a tool. It is not a religion. It is not theology in any sense, but it is a good and useful tool. It works, and it works in an amazing variety of applications related to the biosciences. I’m not convinced it is useful in social sciences, but that might be more a failing of the social sciences in general rather than any particular tool utilized therein. It also might be an indication of my dislike and distrust of all things called “social science.”

Truth above all.

I follow Jesus, and He said He is the way, the truth, and the life. With that, truth becomes pretty much the most important thing in life. If I cannot stay absolutely committed to truth, I cannot see how I am committed to Jesus.

Regarding evolution in general, I find no incompatibility with the biblical assertion that God created man out of the dust of the earth and what Darwin’s theory has become. Dr. Boorse mentioned Howard J. Van Till and the fully gifted creation. I find his views are very similar to my own. This reference, http://www.asa3.org/ASA/education/origins/methods-hvt.htm, is a good summary.

I can recommend this book: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0310220173/discoveryinsti06/102-8881394-1506531?creative=327641&camp=14573&adid=1PHAFTFCXGHBRDD591CP&link_code=as1

I read it while taking an online course from Dr. Hugh Ross’ Reasons.org about creation and evolution.

Origins News Roundup | The BioLogos Forum.

At BioLogos,  John Walton, makes a most interesting point. Namely, a biblical literalist is doomed from the git-go. We know the sun cannot stop in the literal sense, since from modern knowledge we know its apparent movement is due to the orbit of the earth around the sun. Thus trying to take the text at a simplistic, literal meaning, one must abandon the literal reading to get anywhere.

http://biologos.org/blog/biblical-credibility-and-joshua-10-what-does-the-text-really-claim

Of course, thinking of the earth stopping rotation is an overt miracle. It is quite impossible in all regards. Every atom of the entire earth-moon system would have to simultaneously lose all inertia in a coherent, coordinated way, and regain it unnoticeably. We know that inertia is a property of matter. Thus the miracle would require a complete violation of multiple laws of physics, and a thorough disruption of the space-time continuum on a local, but relatively large scale. It is mind-bending to consider what might have to happen to a thrown spear in flight as earth suddenly halted. How might the spear not simply halt in mid-air as the earth halted in orbit? Hmm… It really seems there can be no possible explanation. If it was a miracle, it is utterly inexplicable, and equally unmistakable. It would certainly be the most recorded miracle of all time, as it would have been experienced by every soul on earth. Hmm… Genesis 8:22 also comes to mind. Wouldn’t a severely extended “day” be a disruption in the “never cease” proclamation?

His rendering and interpretation are appealing, but he goes out of his way to point out the difficulties.

It seems clear this is a biblical text for which we must simply admit we do not know exactly what it says nor what it means, except for the obvious description of God supporting the Israelite war effort.

David Vosburg wrote an article for BioLogos, here, http://biologos.org/blog/the-personal-journey-of-a-faith-filled-scientist I enjoyed the article and recommend it, but my own story is much more mundane. I was simply raised this way, despite being raised essentially as a fundamentalist. My family and friends and associates were (are) mostly fundamentalist evangelicals. I suppose the key was exceptionally practically minded grandfathers.

Quoting from the article:

“I was able to explore these questions in community—a community that extends back over 1500 years. I was surprised and encouraged by what St. Augustine and Galileo had written in the 5th and 17th centuries, respectively. Both cautioned against holding too rigidly to particular biblical interpretations in the face of apparently contradictory evidence.

In The Literal Meaning of Genesis (ca. 415), St. Augustine of Hippo writes:

In matters that are obscure and far beyond our vision, even in such as we may find treated in Holy Scripture, different interpretations are sometimes possible without prejudice to the faith we have received. In such a case, we should not rush in headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side that, if further progress in the search of truth justly undermines this position, we too fall with it.

Galileo Galilei echoes this thought in his Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina (1615):

In St. Augustine we read: “If anyone shall set the authority of [the Bible] against clear and manifest reason, he who does this knows not what he has undertaken; for he opposes to the truth not the meaning of the Bible, which is beyond his comprehension, but rather his own interpretation; not what is in the Bible, but what he has found in himself and imagines to be there.” This granted, and it being true that two truths cannot contradict one another, it is the function of wise expositors to seek out the true senses of scriptural texts. These will unquestionably accord with the physical conclusions which manifest sense and necessary demonstrations have previously made certain to us.

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