Fully gifted conservation

At a couple of separate points in the BioLogos discussion to which Eddie Robinson’s recent piece refers, the question of creation and its sustaining arises. Argon in a comment refers to a well-worn TE phrase (which I seem to have neglected in favour of other equivalent terms on The Hump before), ie “fully-gifted creation,” meaning that God at the point of creation endowed it with all it needs to manage its own affairs and, specifically, evolution.

I, for my part, drew attention to Deborah Haarsma’s repetition of the rather constricted language regarding God’s “sustaining” of creation used by Darrel Falk in 2012. Like him, she appeared, at least, to limit God’s ongoing governance of creation to natural laws, allowing for direct divine action in biblical miracles, but regarding the same in matters of natural events to be controversial:

At BioLogos, “we believe that God typically sustains the world using faithful, consistent processes that humans describe as ‘natural laws.’ Yet we also affirm that God works outside of natural law in supernatural events, including the miracles described in Scripture.” The debate is over how much God chose to use miracles over the eons of natural history, and here BL and DI assess the evidence differently. Continue reading

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Response to Deborah Haarsma’s Constructive New Column Regarding ID

Over at BioLogos, President Deborah Haarsma has posted a column on ID/TE relations that is in some respects admirable, and certainly an improvement on many past things written about ID on BioLogos.

Here I present in full my response to her column. I am publishing it here because it is rather long, and I suspect BioLogos may not want to publish such a lengthy piece in the comments section. Continue reading

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Jurassic Lark
Pied_piperThe Hump is likely to be post-lite this week, as I’m preparing to play two solo guitar sets at the Lyme Regis Folk Festival, at the heart of the Jurassic Coast, as well as leading the civic parade on sopranino sax, in pied-piper style. Don’t ask how that came about since I’ve hardly played folk since the mid 80s. It’s a bit like Pink Anderson or John Hurt being dragged out of their rocking chairs on the Mississippi Delta to play after decades, except that those guys were actually good. Anyway, if you happen to be there on Friday or Saturday, say “Hallo.” Continue reading

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The Cosmos of Cosmas

While I was looking for suitable graphics to illustrate the mediaeval worldview for my recent series on the history of cosmology, I suddenly came upon this unfamiliar and completely off-the-wall conception, by one Cosmas Indicopleustes:

droppedImage_1 Continue reading

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Cosmology through the ages #4 – Modern

When Nicholas Copernicus first proposed his heliocentric model of the universe in 1543, it appears to have been primarily for the reason of returning astronomy to the Aristotelian ideal of perfect circles abandoned by Ptolemy’s equants, thus simplifying (and idealizing) the model. Though sources about his thinking are scarce, he was wedded enough to Aristotle still to consider the earth to be the lowest place in the universe, even though that was a problem for his cosmology:

But the fact that Copernicus turned the earth into a planet did not cause him to reject Aristotelian physics, for he maintained that “land and water together press upon a single center of gravity; that the earth has no other center of magnitude; that, since earth is heavier, its gaps are filled with water…” (Revolutions, 10). As Aristotle had asserted, the earth was the center toward which the physical elements gravitate. (Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy)

Continue reading

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Cosmology through the ages #3 – Mediaeval

Enter, stage left, the Great Chain of Being

This, an idea common to much ancient Greek philosophy, held that all that exists is linked in a continuous chain, or hierarchy, from top to bottom. As we saw in the last post such ideas had little impact on early Christian thought, which though interacting with philosophy was fundamentally biblical, and concerned with religious truth, leaving science to the scientists. Exceptions were writers like the mainly Platonist Origen (whose views were considered flaky as a result) and, notably, the heretical Gnostics. Continue reading

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Cosmology through the ages #2 – Patristic

The three Patristic writers most associated with cosmological considerations are Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria (c200-264), Basil of Caesarea, one of the Cappadocian Fathers (c329-379) and Maximus of Constantinople (c580-662). I shall concentrate most on Basil for my purposes here. Continue reading

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Cosmology through the ages #1 – Biblical

In June I did a post  to show that ancient cosmologies, including that of Genesis, were not so much old-science, or even pre-science, as altogether indifferent to the physical and therefore a-scientific. It occurs to me it would be interesting to go on to show how cosmologies have changed over the millennia, and where we end up today. This has already helped me clarify issues in the science-faith discussion, so maybe it’ll give you some points to ponder as well. Continue reading

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The Third Way and God

I’ve not yet commented on the new project called The Third Way, but my recent mini-series of posts on natural selection seems a good reason to do so. It was launched this May by James Shapiro, Denis Noble and Raju Pookottil, and has already attracted some notable names from various fields, some of whose work I have read, including Eva Jablonka, Gerd Müller, Eugene Koonin, Stuart Newman and Robert Austin – 29 names in all at the time of writing. Continue reading

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Evolutionary algorithms and the Lovelace Test

This article is interesting. It seems AI computer boffs needed a better test than the Turing Test for Hard Artificial Intelligence, should it ever arrive, given the subjective and easily manipulable results of the Turing Test recently. The original publication is here. As you’ll see, the test involves demonstrating a computer outputting something that was not designed into it in the original program – and should that ever happen, the computer will be shown to be truly intelligent, according to those best qualified to say. Continue reading

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