Patristic plagues on popular positions

One complaint people like myself and Eddie Robinson have about writers on theistic evolution is their selective use of the Church Fathers to show that they supported, or would have supported, evolution against Creationism or Intelligent Design. I want to show here that their views on the current scene would probably have been more like “a plague on all your ignorant houses”. How you build an orthodox theology of nature is then up to you! Continue reading

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Selfishness in evolution: which self?

A comment by Sy Garte on a recent post, and some recent reading, prompts this. He said:

In fact, I am in quite the minority of environmentalists, since I do not necessarily view ALL extinctions as a bad thing by definition. For those who do, I tend to ask, “bad for whom?”

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Merv Bitkofer, responding to physicist Tim Reddish, kindly introduced my name into another BioLogos discussion in which the autonomy of creation came up. I responded along my usual lines about the illicit (and incoherent) fusing of ideas of genuine secondary causes with the language of freedom and coercion. I don’t want, or need, to repeat all that here as the piece Merv linked to there says enough.

But I feel the need to say something more of the kind of theology underlying “freedom of creation” ideas, partly because it was strongly hinted at in Dr Reddish’s posts, and partly because, by the power of God fortuitously I received an academic article on it in my inbox the next morning, snappily entitled The Power of Unlimited Dispossession: Rethinking Creatio ex nihilo. Continue reading

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Evolutionary theologies – a thought for the day

I believe the evolution of life happened, albeit that the mechanisms have barely been glimpsed, and that providence is bigger than science. But I notice a tendency amongst theologians who accept evolution to suggest that, whenever fundamental theological questions like the nature of God, or the nature of man, are discussed, only an evolutionary view of the world enables them to be rightly approached.

It’s worth remembering that for over 1000 years in Old Testemnt Israel, and for 2000 years in Christianity, they were dealt with quite adequately under the working assumption of special creation and fixity of species, usually in seven days. Those assumptions included the worldviews of Jesus, the prophets and the apostles.

That’s not to say that evolution is untrue, but that absolutising its theological implications is more likely than not to be erroneous.

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The dead end of evolutionary dead ends

I had a brief conversation on BioLogos with someone who’d been a little troubled by the ancient arguments about “vestigial organs”, found in Darwin and echoed in textbooks for kids since as proof of evolution. I ended up suggesting that in very concept the idea is worthless and ought to be dropped. The trouble is that, like much of the popular presentation of evolution, it is actually not a good argument for evolution, but a polemic “case for evolution against creation”, and so is ideologically driven, even though it’s of no value to science and less to theological discourse on creation. Continue reading

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The principle of divine uniformity

The end of John’s gospel contains what amount to a couple of prophecies by the risen Jesus. They come at the end of the famous passage where Jesus reinstates Peter, after his triple denial, through a rather painful triple reaffirmation of his love for the Lord. Forgiveness didn’t come completely cost-free to Peter. Continue reading

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Prophecy and divine action

I described in the last post the way that changes in a society’s worldview seem to threaten Christian faith, only for it to be later vindicated either by new information, or by closer re-examinaton of the old suppositions, or simply by the spirit of the age going the way of all human fashions. One good example in Christian theology is the way that the historical Jewish background to Jesus’ ministry, long lost, has been rediscovered, and particularly (for the purproses of this post) the importance of his prophecy about the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Continue reading

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Faith seeking understanding – and usually having to wait

One of the mysteries of the Christian faith is how doubt-raising issues can be seen, historically, often to take generations to solve – and yet solved they eventually are, usually just at the right time. There’s some teaching about providence in that, I think. I believe many knotty issues in the two century old origins question are of that nature, apparently permanent impasses between the Bible and developing science later becoming resolvable through discoveries about both. Many answers that just weren’t available when I asked questions in my youth have become so in my dotage. Rewards come to those who wait, and who don’t give way to fear. This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints! Continue reading

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The muzak of heaven

The discussion board at BioLogos is much more “lively” than it was a while ago, which I suppose is a good thing. Sadly that largely means that in any thread one encounters a complete smörgåsbord of religious opinion from Deism at one end to any number of special revelations about the real meaning of Scripture, the world and everything at the other. If the project is to create a current of integration for science and faith, then the more likely result is a maelstrom that drowns many and goes nowhere. Continue reading

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Design and difference – both scientifically elusive

First molecular biologist: What’s the difference between a Creationist and a Crustacean?
Second molecular biologist: I don’t know – what is the difference between a Creationist and a Crustacean? Continue reading

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